Monday 12 March 2012

Best ever description of political correctness in a nutshell?


From John C Wright

Excerpted and edited for emphasis:


Political Correctness is cultural Marxism, that is, the Marxist analysis of all human history into a single factor: the Darwinian war between oppressor-class and oppressed-class.

Everything is a power struggle; all human relations are power relations.

In the case of Political Correctness, it is culture rather than economics which is said to be determined by power struggles.


The idea that all cultural values and expressions, from literature to institutions to language to sacraments, are determined by power struggles means that anything, anything at all, can be accused of being a type of oppression.

A racial slur becomes not merely rudeness, but an act tantamount to thousands of years of violence against the oppressed.

A cartoon showing a teenaged superheroine using her mutant powers to do housework becomes tantamount to forbidding the women from entering the workforce, backed with social and legal sanctions.

Or, to use an example from the current headlines, Catholic charities and hospitals and radio stations who demur on religious grounds from paying for the contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs, or medical sterilization of their employees becomes tantamount to an attempt impose by force the laws of the Dark Ages upon women, when they were bought and sold like chattel.

The accusation is unanswerable...


Political Correctness is not merely false, it is moonbat-barkingly, outrageously, openly, in-your-face false...

But it is deliberately, knowingly false.

That is the significant fact to grasp.


Because it is false, it naturally lends itself to totalitarianism, that is, to the policing of every aspect of thought and life, and this for two reasons:

first, normal people will not utter endless falsehood about everything and anything unless they are forced or pressured;

second, normal people, once they yield to the force or the pressure and utter lies they themselves know to be false, naturally tend to lack the will to resist further impositions, and lack the strength to repent of the practice.


A third factor which also plays a role is that once everyone in your environment is a liar, and repeats whatever lies the Big Brother demands, the bonds of faith between individuals are severed, and a man has no family, no Church, no brotherhood, no community to whom he can turn for support. He is alone and naked before the stark power of Big Brother.


Because it is false, it can be changed at will.

The pious slogans repeated from yesterday become thoughtcrimes tomorrow. Yesterday, in the name of fighting sexism, the pious slogans denounced the hideous abuses of women under Sharia Law, because it was fashionable, but tomorrow, when the fashion changes, that same slogan is Islamophobia ergo thoughtcrime.

Because a falsehood can be changed at will, anyone can be denounced at any time no matter how pure his PC credentials.


Why should anyone volunteer for this bizarre system of make believe? There are several reasons:

First, the method of analysis sounds smart, and uses big words but does not require any brains to use, so a person adopting PC can pass himself off as a smart person while not having to do any thinking.

Second, and related, the answers are simple. The method of analysis always yields the desired result. The oppressor groups are simply devils and the oppressed groups are simply angels.

Third, the answers are actionable. The method of analysis cannot come to the conclusion that Man is Fallen, that his nature is utterly depraved, or that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. There are no necessarily evils or even opportunity costs. Every problem is soluble.

Fourth, the solution of problems is effortless. All we need do is change our language, and it will change our thinking; our thinking creates reality, and so politically correct language will create goodthink which will make all problems, economic and social and personal, vanish by magic.

Fifth, the motive is always benevolent. The motive for the deeply committed PCnik is to end all human suffering and bring about utopia. No one aside from a villain of the blackest heart or dimmest brain would oppose paradise, unless he were afraid. Consequently, the PCnik regard all their opponents as brainless dupes, gutless cowards, conscienceless henchmen, or as heartless villains...


Sixth, the system is infinitely flexible. Because anything can be deconstructed at will to mean anything, asking someone to call ‘marriage’ a ‘gay marriage ban’ and to call support for marriage sexism, and heteronormalism, and homophobia, becomes tantamount to asking someone not to call a Black man by a racial slur.

Better still, even a complimentary stereotype, such as saying Chinamen are hard-working or Jews are good at book-learning, becomes tantamount to a slur.

Even better again, perfectly normal words that have never been meant nor taken as offensive, such as ‘Oriental’, or ‘Native’, or ‘Indian’ become tantamount to slurs. Even when the spokesmen for the group involved say that word in question does not offend them, once the PC accusation is made, there is no defense and no trial.


Finally, the system always allows the PC-nik to conclude that he is the moral and not just the mental superior to all other men, and grants him the palm of the martyr without the mess of martyrdom, the halo of sanctity without the effort of being saintly, or even decent.

The Christians may have abolished slavery world-wide, but you refuse to use the word ‘Eskimo’ and refuse to condemn sadomasochism as a sexual perversion, and so this enables you to look down your nose at the moral teachings of Socrates, Buddha, Confucius, and Christ.



The Crow said...

That's hardly a nutshell. It's complex and long-winded.
But certainly, it is accurate.
It's curious: I have never seen human interactions as a power-struggle. But clearly I am unusual.
Human interactions do, these days, always seem to turn into a competition.
We live in difficult times.

Bruce Charlton said...

Ahem, Crow - that is less than 1000 words.

Are you suffering from attention deficit disorder, my corvine friend?

The Crow said...

It's all relative, Bruce.
ADD? Me? I don't think so.
PC can be summed up in a very few words, for example: PC is a mental aberration resulting from laziness and a reliance upon substituting lies for truth to further a political illusion.

Still, it made satisfying reading.

Gyan said...

That everything is power struggle is in nutshell the philosophy of Hell, as it denies the possibility of Love.

I.e. for feminists, the marriage as such is oppressive since Church and other traditions say that the wife must be subject to her husband. They can not conceive of a hierarchy that exists on the basis of Love.

Svein Sellanraa said...

This was excellent. I do have one quibble, though:

"Fourth, the solution of problems is effortless. All we need do is change our language, and it will change our thinking; our thinking creates reality, and so politically correct language will create goodthink which will make all problems, economic and social and personal, vanish by magic."

I think this notion that PC is only concerned with changing language, which I've heard expressed elsewhere as well, misses something important. Political correctness surely extends further, among other things to how history is taught in schools and universities, how the media report on crime and other things, how marriage, human rights, and God knows what else is continually being redefined by legislators, and so on. I agree that the reconstruction of language plays an important part in it---and not just in the sense that we now have to say "Asian" instead of "Oriental", "African-American" instead of "Negro", and so on---but Newspeak is not all there is to Oceania, as it were.

dearieme said...

"PC is a mental aberration resulting from laziness and a reliance upon substituting lies for truth to further a political illusion": but that doesn't define PC because it can cover many ther phenomena. For example, the Pope's call for a crusade.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SS & dearieme - I meant that *the whole passage* was an excellent definition of PC - not specific extracted sentences or points - which are obviously partial truths, and not intended to be complete detachable definitions, or else there would not have been so many other points made.

Gyan said...

There is PC of the Right too.
You must not offend
1) Equality of Women
2) Dogma of Adam Smith

CS Lewis in Preface to Paradise Lost
quotes Aristotle:

"A man should rule his slaves despotically, his children monarchically, and his wife politically."

Plenty of people on the Right would not approve.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Gyan - what you are describing is the moderate lfet - i.e. the mainstream conservatives and libertarians are actually moderate left. The only true political right is off the political map, and outwith public discourse (I mean in places like the US and UK) - e.g. the internal politics of the Amish, ultra Orthodox Jews etc.

Ugh said...

@Svein Sellanraa

The practitioners of PC that I know, nauseating though they are, use language publically that they do not use in private. Language is where it starts for them. They are in fact the most judgmental people around. In fact they make snap judgements on everyone, and no one, once they have uttered a transgression can ever achieve redemption.

This description of PCism by Wright is excellent. If you apply any of his postulations to PC people you know they work...

Samson J. said...

Off-topic: Dr. Charlton, we know you're a big fan of the Byzantine Empire. Are you by chance a Gregorian Chant enthusiast, as well?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Sampson J - I would say not, on the whole. As Church music I like best the English 16th century style of Tallis, Byrd, Tomkins etc; and the Russian Orthodox choirs - but I don't have much expertise in the subject.

Gyan said...

I actually do not understand
the Aristotelian quotation on the different degrees of superiority and inferiority. It is intuitive but hard to make explicit.

I think it is necessary for reactionaries to regain the understanding of Hierarchy in its full glory.