I listened to a “debate” on Radio NZ this morning on “political correctness”. It was a typical, “balanced”, RNZ debate. Gay Keating of the Public Health Association and Paul Morris of Victoria University defending PC and Christchurch City Councillor, Barry Corbett, “against” it. Corbett was so light weight, he made Calista Flockhart look like a Sumo wrestler.
PCism seems to be everywhere, National even has a “PC eradicator”, but nobody seems to be able to define what it is.
British academic Frank Ellis (a lecturer in Russian at Leeds University) has researched the subject. He has identified the origins of the term, charted its history and analysed its meaning. It can found in detail in his book “Political Correctness and the Theoretical Struggle” published by our own Maxim Institute.
Ellis traces the term back to Lenin, then to Mao and Maoism, with contributions by figures such as Gramsci, Marcuse and Foucault.“China….needs a unifying thought, revolutionary thought, correct thought. That is Mao Tse Tung Thought. Only with this thought can we maintain vigorous revolutionary drive and keep firmly in the correct political orientation.”
From China, the term and the thought control it implies moved through the “New Left” of the ’60s and ’70s into the western universities. The “radicals” of that era became lecturers, professors, journalists and writers in the ’80s and ’90s and spread PCism throughout society.
As Ellis explains “We have now moved from the struggle to control the means of production, the characteristic of class war and traditional Marxism, to the struggle to control and regulate the means of expression. Language is the new means of production. The politically-correct intellectual class are its new managers. This is Marxism without the economics“.
The consequences for free thought in our learning institutions is enormous. Students dare not criticise the lecturers who have the power to pass or fail them. Teaching staff can be drummed out of their posts for questioning “orthodoxy”. As Ellis says “The atmosphere is not one which is conducive to asking questions – it is one of coercion”.
Ellis maintains that PC is destroying our ability to make moral and intellectual judgements. Judgement is now a “sin”.“Note what has happened here: the politically correct commissariat condemns us for being judgemental, yet reserves the right to pass judgement on us…chastised and bullied in this manner, we fall silent. And this silence in the face of intimidation, which masquerades as the defender of tolerance, is deeply threatening to democratic society.“
Essentially PC is about changing what it is permissible to say and how it may be said. If you can control language, you can control thought and consequently control action.
So called “human rights” legislation and “hate speech” laws are dsigned to enforce PCism, through the power of the state. Is it any coincidence that Joris de Bres of the Human Rights Commission, the epitome of PCness is an ex Maoist who studied Maruse at university in Germany? Alick Shaw, the deputy mayor of Wellington has been a strong advocate of “hate speech” legislation in the Labour Party. He was also a leading Maoist for many years.
My definition of PC is “a movement to control thought and action along Marxist lines, by means of controlling and altering the meaning of language.” Anyone got a better one?