Author- Vladimir Zark
There was a time – in the early 90’s – when political correctness first took off in liberal America. This likely happened both as a result of fear following the civil rights movement and the assassination of prominent figures like Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy, but also because of the paralyzing cold war era that had gone on along the same timeline. Moralizing Marxists began to infiltrate higher education, Reagan’s era was coming to an end, and Clinton took off. This article will focus on political correctness as an idea, and why it’s a considerable moral evil as well as a silencing tool for political dissenters.
Firstly, political correctness is a Maoist term, mentioned in the Red Book that the communists had to read in 60’s China. This should already give some certifiable concerns about the goodness of political correctness. I need not remind you that Mao was responsible for the deaths of around 60 million innocent people. Furthermore, we must understand what political correctness is in the first place – it’s what’s considered ‘allowed speech’ versus what is considered ‘dissent’ or ‘hate speech’. Every dictatorial power in history had some sort of implicit political correctness, seeing as an average citizen in the 40’s-50’s USSR could not get away with slandering Stalin without getting jail time or simply being executed. The same was true of Germans under Hitler, Italians under Mussolini, Cubans under Castro, etc. In fact, only Western countries with democratic arrangements have not experienced severe issues with political correctness – although I can say for sure, as of today, that the times are changing rapidly.
Remember, Orwell wrote 1984 in an era of this very political tension that began in WWII and followed into the Cold War – he wrote the book in 1949, never expecting, perhaps, that the totalitarian nature of ideology would still be relevant and even dangerous. 1984 is beautiful in that it gives a fantastic illustration of political correctness when employed on a widespread societal level, and when one has no more comfort than his own thoughts – although, even his thoughts scare him, since he’s always afraid that he might act upon them.
‘Ideological paralysis’ has invaded universities, conversations, and elections. It’s fantastic that our most developed nations, which could be called significantly more ‘progressive’ today than 50 years ago, have also become significantly more ideologically filtered and polarized. And whose voice is paralyzed by this phenomenon, generally? I would say it’s the nonconformists’. The person who is farthest away from the status quo position, whatever it may be, suffers the most from political correctness. We can frame the problem of political correctness in two ways: 1. It is not ‘correctness’ in the objective sense, meaning that it is correctness tampered with. Someone is tampering with what’s objectively true about something by employing political power, thus forcing the party who holds dissenting opinions to submit. Essentially, it is ideological manipulation. 2. It is not a democratic arrangement in most cases, seeing as there’s a large group of persons who will always disagree with the idea of political correctness. But, if they are lacking political power in a society, they can be forcefully silenced or harassed.
These two problems alone, which are always true of a society subject to political correctness, indicate a subtle but irrefutable power dynamic between those who have the power and those who are victim to it. Ironically, the Marxist thematic of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is relevant here, seeing as those who are of a low-class always have less agency in exercising their political beliefs – this is why, I think, my New York friends didn’t understand how the working class could’ve voted Trump in. They’re accustomed to the status quo opinion, yet it is an entirely artificial thing, enforced only by virtue of being dominant.
Besides, on the intrinsic level, I don’t think anyone enjoys political correctness – they might think it a necessary evil, or a tool of moral liberation for supposedly ‘marginalized’ groups, but they don’t enjoy it. That’s because political correctness is unnatural. It goes against our nature, I believe, to deny objective reality. I’ll explain what I mean. Political correctness doesn’t necessarily make reality untrue, but it distorts it, quite like a euphemism distorts the meaning and effect of a harsh truth – if a doctor tells you that “you have a bit of time left to enjoy yourself”, it’s no better than him telling you that “you will die in a few hours”. In fact, the second statement is more precise. It’s often the same case with political correctness, except there’s also an arbitrary moral component – you’re judged for something that you didn’t know was ‘offensive’, yet you’re ‘punished’ by someone who has deemed it so. Someone is appointing themselves your judge, jury, and executioner. How can that be acceptable on any basis?
I will conclude by saying that political incorrectness is much more freeing and enjoyable than its opposite. I believe that a society is free only when it is free to speak and express itself however it wishes (as the first amendment right allows), and can only grow under such conditions. To be politically incorrect is to be genuine, even if it can come off as crass. I’m not afraid. I’d rather be crass than a liar, after all.