Tuesday 6 December 2011

Are complex explanations of political correctness really necessary?


At root - yes. Simple explanations will not suffice.

PC cannot just be explained as expedient careerism - because PC is something new.

Once a system of political correctness had been established, it became expedient for careerists to spout PC; but why did the system of PC become established in the first place?

And, having been established, why did PC not immediately get changed? - given that it is obviously irrational, obviously self-destructive?

The self-loathing craziness of PC is not a subtle thing: it is as obvious as having central London looted and burned for several nights in a row while thousands of police stand by watching and the media conceal the racial identity of the rioters.

Once it is up and running and stable, to be PC is merely expedience; but the creation and sustenance of the sociopolitical framework which defines what is expedient still needs to be explained.



Anonymous said...

Don't rule out dumb luck.

Through chance, they were able to hook into the rights movements of the 60s and 70s. They got a head of steam in the 80s after the Soviet Union went out of business, together with the ugliness of that system.

The principal nodes of the network happened to be resident either in the legal system, which made them immune to criticism, or in academia which nobody cared about. In both cases they were ideally placed to clone themselves and bully their fellows.

They were lucky enough to find an environment where politicians had run out of ideas. Nature abhors a vacuum.

Bruce Charlton said...

I *do* rule out dumb luck - for the reasons stated.

But I agree that nature abhors a vacuum - and that political correctness is the (terminal) consequence of the apostasy of the Western elites from Christianity.

The ultimate reason for PC is that it is evil - its evil is more and more obvious with each passing year, or month.

Brett Stevens said...

Complex explanations are needed to separate the social impetus for PC from its political ideology, and then from the actual goal of those who wield it, which is a transfer of power.

In a Wolfeian-Nietzschean view, PC is a social fashion that confers socio-economic advantages on those who wield it. However, beneath the skin, I think it's something else... a form of vast cognitive dissonance that demands the unstable individual sabotage anything healthy around them, so that the unstable individual appears less lonely, failed, isolated and purposeless.

It's un-PC to say this but much as the universe is mostly empty space, most people are empty space. They are not particularly honest, smart, kind, aware or even considerate. They are essentially grunting animals at the trough.

These are the people who are most likely to insist on manic "equality" in order to hide their own shortcomings. Under equality, all thoughts are equally valid, and thus truth itself is of no consequence. From this view, every individual is accepted, which is what the less equal types wanted in the first place. It's a demonic bargain that ultimately destroys their civilization, but most of them correctly guess that it will not happen in their lifetimes.

Valkea said...

The origin, functions and ideology of PC is most completely described in Moral Mazes, The world of corporate managers by Robert Jackall (Oxford University Press) in pages 54-78; and in the larger sense, in the whole book. Thus PC is the inner social world of large complex organizations projected with power, de facto coercion, manipulation and influence into the local, national and international environments, despite the differences, incompatibilities and incongruities between them. Increasing negative consequences are the result. Social world of large complex organizations is seriously flawed in itself, let alone when it is forcefully projected into the social environment. The same applies to large government bureaucracies, except that their social world and policies are more enduring/stable, slower, more predictable and more according to rules.


Bruce Charlton said...

@Valkea - sure political correctness predate modern, parasitic corporate management by a couple of decades?

Traditional private sector corporate is almost the opposite of PC - the modern bureaucratic corruption is largely a consequence of the fact that all modern large organizations are in a symbiotic relationship with public administration (intrinsically socialist), from which PC emanates:


Valkea said...


I kind of agree, but it is a complex issue. The seeds of PC are of course more than two thousand years old, but in its modern manager ruled form it was established by the cooperation of the largest bankers in 1913, not immeadiately, but they send the ball rolling.

Some of the aspects of modern manager ruled large organizations:

- Loss and exclusion of almost all larger context in society (religion, nation, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, culture, etc.) and fevered preoccupation with styles, topics, techniques, methods and tasks of the moment.

- Illusion of endless status opportunities (to a large extent, illusions of status in itself, except at the top of the organization) in highly vertical large organizations.

- Concentration on surface qualities like fashionable clothing; groomed appearances; polished manners; instant pleasantness to other people; constant strategic and tactical lying and lying by omission to create a surface of friendly and caring environment; ethos of teamwork (instrumental, and often used for e.g. squashing opponents or dissent) and tension of these with the underlying cold and brutal status competition, back stabbing, greed and malice.

- Constant change or constant threat of change in the organization, jobs and statuses, which can materialize at any moment and disrupt and destroy everything which has been achieved. Relativity of it all, living in the moment, fairly little real long term perspective in the organization and no real long term perspective outside the organization.

- Internalizing the fame, reputation, achievements, success, good tasks and large scale decision making of oneself (not self-evident) and of others (the normal state of affairs); externalizing (delegating, creating illusions, using power, manipulating etc.) blame, problems, bad tasks, details of tasks, involvement with tasks etc.; and creating an organizational, occupational, team work and informational situation beforehand which will do the said internalizing and externalizing as automatically as possible.

- Lack of knowledge, information and real standards on how to evaluate people in the large organizations. Anonymity, and superficial knowledge about and friendships of large numbers of other people. This allows all kinds of manipulations and uses of power to self-centered gains. E.g. those who do the evaluating of work (de facto) evaluate themselves, and their competitors and subordinates; when externalizing blame in the large organization to an obscure or distant employee or manager, perhaps only a few people know the person and his doings so well, that they know he got a raw deal, and if they do and say something against it, they are easily silenced with threats of e.g. losing they jobs or statuses.

In a small healthy community or small tightly knit group where all the people know everybody and everything well, these things either can't happen, or it is much harder to pull off dirty tricks.

- Maximum interchangeability of people.


Continued ...

Valkea said...

Part 2.

A couple of examples in managers' own words:

"Someone who is talking about team play is out to squash dissent. It is the most effective way to tell people who have different perspectives to shut up. ... You can and you have to learn to keep your mouth shut. My boss is like that. ... It's hurt me because I have spoken out. It might be that someone has formed the opinion that I have interesting things to say, but more likely, it gives you a troublemaker label and that is truly hard to get rid of. The "troublemaker" is often a creative person, but truly creative people don't get ahead; to get ahead you have to be "dependable" and a "team player". ... When I hear the word, I immeadiately think it's an effort to crush dissent. ... Bosses say they dont want a yes man, but in fact, most bosses don't want to hear the truth. And this is particularly true if it disagrees with what they want to do."

"Our motives are purely selfish. We're not concerned about old Joe failing, but we're worried about how his failure will reflect on us. When you pick somebody, say, you invest part of yourself in him. So his failure and what it means to his kids and so on means nothing. What you're worried about is your own ass with your superiors for having picked him in the first place. What we do essentially when somebody fails is to put him in a little boat, tow him out to sea, and cut the rope. And we never think about him again."

"You can put the damper on anyone who works for you very easily and that's why there's too much chemistry in the corporation. There is not enough objective information about people. When you really want to do somebody in, you just say, well he can't get along with people. That's a big one. And we do that constantly. What it means, by the way, is that he pissed me off; he gave evidence of his frustration with some situation. ..."

"Now what it really means is going with the flow and not making waves. If you disagree with something, bowing to the majority without voicing your disagreemeent. You can indict a person by saying that he's not a team player. That doesn't mean he won't follow directions. It's because he voices an objection, because he argues with you before doing something, especially if he's right. If he is wrong, we can be condecending and adopt the "you poor bastard" tone."

It is easy to compare these to the PC and notice the consistencies between them.


Psychiatry classifies the brave woman in the following video to have a borderline personality disorder (unstable moods and feelings, unstable relationships, self-injury, high rate of suicide etc.), because it causes her and her relationships (to people around her) trouble. To what extent the same or more can be said about the managers of large organizations and to what extent large organizations select and refine troublesome mentality and turn it into actions? Is the psychological and societal status of managers of large organizations what it is only because certain benefits are artificially and unnecessarily tied to large organizations with the help of the state, which is also composed of large organizations?


Bruce Charlton said...

@Valkea - that's true enough.

Thanks for your comment, replying has helped me clarify what I am up-to.

The world of corporate management sounds like 'normal' corruption (selfish short-termism); while PC is something purposive.

PC - at times - does things even when they disadvantage the doer.

I am talking about the difference between 'natural' selfishness (the behaviour of animals) and the behaviour due to a morality which has been twisted. Wolf versus demon.

Most of those engaged in PC are mostly merely being expedient - at a proximate level of analysis; but behind PC is a real evil - so in going along with PC (which we all do, to some extent) we are being expedient in the service of evil.

The ultimate evil behind PC presumably has the usual source; but there is an *intermediate* level of abstract, atheist, Leftist ideology which has made PC possible; and that is the level I have been trying to analyze.

GFC said...

Just a note to Valkea's post. Dating this modern regime of managerial PC to 1913 would be valid in the USA - it was the creation of the Federal Reserve System - but the date would have to go back earlier in Europe and the UK. The establishment of the Fed was also an elite project to catch the USA up to a state of affairs that already existed on the other side of the Atlantic and in fact European banking interests were involved in its creation.

Bruce Charlton said...

@GFC - in my Thought Police book I date PC (modernity) from the Great Schism circa 1000 AD although it was almost invisible at the whole cultural level until much later.

But in terms of the US, surely the visible nature of PC would date back at least to the abolition movement, substantially led by upper class New England intellectual women.

GFC said...


Yes, unfortunately I wasn't clear - I don't entirely agree with Valkea dating the rise of managerial PC to 1913 just wanted to point out that if you use that date, it has a specifically and exclusively American context and isn't valid for the rest of Western civilization. However, it is a significant date not only for the Federal Reserve founding which was so important in enabling the modern administrative state in the USA, but also this marks when a real Progressive first took major national executive power - Woodrow Wilson became President in 1913.

I agree it goes back much earlier in the US, and abolition politics is a pretty good starting point, though I think you could really say that quality has been present in New England since 1620. The English Protestant dissenters who founded the New England colonies were PC avant la lettre and have ever since exercised a baleful influence on the rest of America (of course this is coming from a Southerner). Eventually the dissenters dissented their way right out of Christian belief altogether and PC is their modern faith, which they inflict on the rest of us with crusading zeal.

josh said...

I think what Valkea describes is epitomized by the Bellamy Nationalist movement and the associated "efficiency movement" of the 1890s and, of course, those movements did not simply appear out of nowhere.

BTW, I think PC may be a descendent of Quaker "friendly persuasion"