On the Potential Effects of Political Correctness

In a previous article (see https://ideationstartshere.blogspot.sg/2018/03/purely-speculating-influence-of.html), I discussed the possible connections between the pushing of politically correct agendas and certain events (the Florida and Maryland school shootings, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s belated recognition of no-go zone areas and the wave of #metoo harassment accusations). In this follow-up, I will scope out more broadly why political correctness is detrimental on balance – ie, when one weighs up the potential and actual pros and cons, the stark conclusion is that political correctness enfeebles the minds of the population and bring out their destructive tendencies.

I note that the term politically correct has pejorative connotations (the connotation that one is somehow afraid to express oneself because one has succumbed to the fear of offending others), such that persons would mostly never use the word to describe themselves. I therefore define being politically correct to mean ‘expressing oneself in a way consistent with prevailing liberal ideologies and which deliberately avoids offending those who are different’. I understand my definition might be contentious – but I identify being politically correct with being liberal because at the core of avoiding offence to others is the concept of autonomy: people should be able to do what they like (subject to important limitations, which I will come to later).

If this definition is accepted, one can see that it is prima facie uncontentious. People should be able to express themselves how they like (subject to certain limitations) and to avoid offending others in a modern liberal democracy. Even without recourse to a central Constitution, these freedoms are taken for granted. However, the problem manifests when this is taken to an extreme: avoiding offence has become not merely laudable but obligatory. We see this is in the ‘safe-space phenomenon’ proliferating across universities and workplaces in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, and in the Canadian Bill C-16 (which is now law in Canada) which adds gender expression and gender identity as protected grounds to the Canadian Human Rights Act. In Canada, misusing another’s gender pronoun or refusing to use it might be grounds for prosecution.

I noted that people should be able to do or say whatever they like subject to important limitations. What are these limitations? Quite simply, they are the limitations all of us operate under in daily life, limitations on our freedom which the law deems necessary to facilitate modern life and development. In the modern context, it is important that laws have their grounding in empirical reality (this is a subject forming the core of the policy-science strain of Legal Realism – I shall deal with this another time), which includes accurate statistical data etc. The other foundation of law is the more nebulous ‘value judgment’, which includes taking a stand on moral issues or issues where information is scarce (this sort of perception of law is attributable to Natural Lawyers). A third foundation seems to be the use of sanctions or coercion – this is law as commands of the sovereign backed by threats (the Austinian conception of Positivism) or law as a union of primary and secondary rules (the Hartian conception of Positivism). If these seem a little theoretical, I assure the reader that they have no great bearing on the discussion at hand: the point is that there are limitations to one’s freedoms, but these limitations should not expand to include politically correct inclinations.

First, I will start with why people might want to be politically correct. Again, different people have different likes and dislikes. A person with liberal inclinations and who prefers to avoid confrontation might want to be politically correct for no other reason that he wants to. He might be a utilitarian and think this course of action would lubricate his way through life. He might have deep-seated moral reasons to be politically correct. At this level, I emphasise that political correctness is not detrimental in and of itself.

At low levels, some measure of political correctness lubricates social interactions and facilitates the functioning of modern society. In a way, it filters out myriad insulting comments which daily make their way through the thoughts of all ordinary people; but do not mistake it for ‘respect’, for political correctness runs only skin-deep.

I therefore still say that society (as opposed to individuals) is better off without political correctness. The first reason is that it (like all such ideologies, including that of the alt-right etc.) tends to extremes in the minds of the mob. For those that lack understanding of the boundaries within which political correctness can be acceptably practised, it becomes something to be imposed upon others. This imposition is unwarranted and is the root of much evil in modern society. The second reason is that political correctness leaves a society’s culture vulnerable to virile and aggressive invaders. After all, acceptance means acceptance of even the most savage cultures. The third reason is that political correctness breeds hypocrisy: one can accept different cultures with values contradictory to one’s own, but one cannot accept the conservative viewpoint from within one’s culture which preaches traditional values, gender roles, etc.

These reasons will be discussed in turn, to illustrate why political correctness is detrimental on balance.

Political correctness tends to such extremes because in the minds of those who practise it, it is morally good – the only morally good way of going about things. Those that depart from this narrative thus deserve to be vilified. One can immediately see how short-sighted this perspective is, since if political correctness preaches acceptance of different cultures with different values, what happens if those different cultures advocate non-politically correct values? Is that good or bad? As of now, the enemy is the white male, but everything points toward the possibility of this focus arbitrarily shifting to other groups in society, perhaps when the white male has been completely debased. At its core, this universalist way of thinking is destructive – which makes it all the more lamentable that Justin Trudeau, with his politically correct pandering, is Prime Minister of such an important country as Canada.

Political correctness leaves a country vulnerable because it advocates as the ultimate good the acceptance of other cultures. Some cultures, however, are not as accepting. The consequence of this is predictably to leave the politically correct culture at the mercy of others who refuse to assimilate, for acceptance suggests respect even for those different but hostile. No wonder Germany (who has taken in more refugees than any other European country) is having such a marked problem, with “no-go zones” and cultural enclaves detracting from the sovereignty of that nation. So long as political correctness holds sway, that problem will not be resolved.

Finally, there is the issue of hypocrisy. The very core of political correctness seems geared toward such double-standards, since any such movement must be rallied against a ‘common enemy’. In this case, the common enemy is the white male. Yet, to have a common enemy runs directly contrary to ‘acceptance’. Even at this fundamental level, there is contradiction. These contradictions pile up as we become more specific: doesn’t acceptance of different viewpoints also mean acceptance of conservative viewpoints? What happens when there are contradictions? How to we prefer one viewpoint over another?

A politically correct person might say: “all viewpoints are accepted equally.” Yet, that is not the way of modern development or evolution. The strongest and fittest survive in nature (‘strongest’ including such parameters as intelligence, teamwork etc., but always geared toward the defeat of an enemy). The strongest and richest country flourishes. The best solution is best because it can effect an outcome better and more efficiently than all the others. There is no equality of solutions in a world of finite resources – and in any case even politically correct persons do not advocate that viewpoint, for they pick out one group in society (usually the white male in western countries and the Chinese in some Southeast Asian societies) to systematically vilify. The preference there, thinly veiled, is for cultures other than one’s own.

Eventually, self-hate leads to self-destruction.

Frederick Yorck



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