Chasing the elusive notion of political correctness
The word chassé means two things. It is the past participle of the French verb ‘to chase’ and it is a noun describing a ballet step, in which one leg is sort of ‘chasing’ the other.
Watching the last Munk debate gave me a visceral demonstration of the two meanings. The CON side hopelessly chasing the pro side which was consistently chasseing away from the real subject. The subject, which was supposed to be political correctness. The resolution of the debate was:
“Be it resolved, what you call political correctness, I call progress…”
That debate never happened. The pro side refused to actually debate the question. They would not even define its meaning. They did what the left always does: Insults, personal attacks and ad hominies, lies, distortions, insinuations, ANYTHING but addressing the actual question. Like two attack dogs, their sole focus was to smear, provoke and insult Jordan Peterson. They completely ignored Stephen Fry, who still managed to make some of the most sensible points in his allotted time. Dyson and Goldberg were despicable. They were barking like mad dogs at imaginary opponents while consistently chasséing away from the real questions of their real opponents.
I can, in a way, understand both actions. The left has no argument. Jordan Peterson is presenting the most reasonable, most articulate and most sincere alternative to the oppressive madness of political correctness.
The left, the promoters of political correctness never argue. They can only compel, cajole, harass, shout down and riot. The hope of trying to discuss the matter at a forum like the Munk debates is that the above statement may be wrong. That intelligent people with different views can have a reasonable exchange. They couldn’t. The debate was not a debate and the problem started with the definitions.
Before we can even discuss the resolution, we need to understand what it means. We need to agree on what we are talking about. What is political correctness? What is progress?
Political correctness is politically sanctioned behaviour. Questions, thoughts, opinions, expressions and actions that are deemed correct and therefore acceptable by some political power. The implication is that the use of political power is justifiable against those who dissent. That dissent can justify oppression, character and career assassination and even physical violence.
Political correctness is the idea that some people are imbued by the wisdom to identify universal rights and wrongs and therefore should have the power – not just the power of persuasion – to right those wrongs. Communism is the daily practice of political correctness. I know. I experienced it.
I am also lucky. I spent only nine months in a maximum-security prison for saying the wrong thing to the wrong people in communist Hungary. Stephen Fry says (at ~44:40 of the debate) that there is no censorship – ‘in the way it is in Russia’. That may be, but we are almost there. Part of my sentence was a 10-year ban from studying at any University. That was a serious impediment to my prospects in life. Political correctness can already do that. It can destroy people’s lives, career and business – their prospects in life.
Political correctness is not about rights and wrongs, it is about the power to enforce a particular vision of the world, language, history and even our biological reality through the merciless persecution of dissent.
The control of language is political correctness.
The rewriting of history is political correctness.
The refusal to discuss certain subjects is political correctness.
The refusal to accept facts and evidence in a discussion is political correctness.
Political correctness is NOT about being nice to transgender black Muslim women.
The definition of the second part of the resolution is also problematic. What is progress? A movement from where to where? Is going to hell progress? Is going to heaven? What is the goal of progress? How do we know when we get there?
Without a proper definition, “progress” is just sleazy obfuscation. Progress is supposed to be a good thing. But so was communism. How do we know that we are progressing in the right direction? How can we know, as Jordan Peterson repeatedly asked, when we went too far? How can we possibly know without dissent and discussion?
In the end, the question comes down to what Thomas Sowell described as ‘A Conflict of Visions’ a fundamental and irreconcilable difference in the way we see the world.
The pro side of the debate represented the unconstrained vision, the con side its opposite.
I happen to believe that the problem is even more fundamental than this. The differences are irreconcilable, because they are biological, as explained by r /K selection theory.
Political correctness is progress.
It is the latest manifestation of the unconstrained vision of reality, a series of steps that inevitably lead to the kind of totalitarianism that killed over 100 million people in the 20th century. Political correctness is fundamentally totalitarian in its nature.
People of reason and decency keep trying to engage in a dialog to find acceptable compromises only to realize time and time again (as evidenced by this debate) that reasonable discussion with ideologues is not possible.
In hindsight, the debate was doomed before it started.