Saturday 20 July 2013

Enlightened false consciousness in political correctness (an edited re-post)

[Note: this was, I think, one of the best things I ever wrote about political correctness; but, for reasons I don't recall, it didn't get into Thought Prison, my book on PC,.]


The politically correct are people who do not believe in absolute truth.

Yet they insist that everyone should believe what they are telling them today.

Or else if you do not believe whatever they tell you today, you are evil.

Yet the politically correct do not believe in evil.


What they do believe in is culture - culture is the bottom line 'reality'.

And culture is consensus.

Yet the politically correct believe in the liberation of individual desire: that is, they believe in the overthrow of consensus.

So the bottom line reality for political correctness is... a continually changing, compulsory consensus.


This leads to the 'enlightened false consciousness' of the modern cynic.

Enlightened = realistic; False consciousness = self-serving illusion.

The cynic combination is a clear-eyed awareness that one's own fundamental beliefs are self-manipulating fantasies: yet insistence on absolute belief in these acknowledged fantasies.

To make reality and then to forget one has just made it, and then to remember, critique and re-make reality; and again to forget it - and so on and so forth...


Neither ironical nor detached; enlightened false consciousness is a severe, rational, anger-fuelled stance which aims to impose meaning and purpose onto life via the continual bureaucratic and authoritarian process of creating and moulding culture - undoing and reversing the inequalities and miseries of the past, and chasing always after the flickering fashions in upper class status.

Culture is arbitrary, yet it is reality; culture is managed, yet it is contingent; culture us everything and irresistible, yet it is nothing and as insignificant as the life of a mayfly.


This enlightened false consciousness collapses into careerism, which collapses into parasitism (life as a permanent holiday, travel, good living), which collapses into the secret-guilty cult of the openly instinctual and unashamed psychopath: the invincible gangster, the irresistible and expert sexual predator, the envied permanently-stoned junkie.

This opposite to the disaffected cynic is what Sloterdijk (in his Critique of Cynical Reason) terms the kynic.

The kynic has (merely) discarded consciousness; has solved the problem of being a modern human in a modern society by becoming an animal and preying upon society.

(Trying, always, to obliterate the final, residual human awareness that this is what he is doing - trying to become wholly animal, wholly instinctual.)


The cynic and the kynic exhaustively describes the possibilities for modern secular life - either the cynic bureaucrat who lives inside-of and builds a culture he knows to be meaningless and temporary; or the junkie who lives outside-of and eats that culture.

Most often, the characteristic modern elite are both cynic and kynic: public bureaucrat and private junkie - paid moralist, part-time amateur hedonist.


1 comment:

Ben ML said...

A great post, thanks. Has crystalised the nebulous thoughts I've had on this (and, as always, expanded upon them.)