Monday, November 29, 2010

PC: The Theology

Bruce Charlton has been writing quite a bit on the subject of PC. On his post, Pure Abstract Altruism: the underlying ideal principle of political correctness he writes:
The argument in brief:

Political correctness is a logical extension of a this-worldly (secular) and materialist (not spiritual) perspective of pure abstract
altruism - untainted by personal feelings.

In other words, PC aims at the attainment of altruism in this world.

And the altruism aimed at is abstract - not the altruism of individuals. 

PC aims at the submission of the (inevitably selfish) individual to abstract systems of pure altruism.

Submission, ideally, even unto the destruction and death of everything that is valued. The test of ultimate sincerity. 
I would argue that he is close to an understanding the symptoms of the phenomenon, he in the end does not understand the nature of the disease.  PC can't be reduced to one overriding principle, instead it is a convergent product of several human and cultural influences. Still, if one had to had to identify the big idea behind PC, it is not altruism but its antecedent, Utopianism. PC altruism is directed towards achieving its Utopian vision.

Religion told men that heaven was unable to be achieved on earth, Socialism told them that they could do it. With the demise of religion, Socialism's Utopianism, if not Socialism itself , has assumed the moral imperative in modern "ethical" Western societies.  I think this is an important point to recognise as it reflected a fundamental shift in Western man's understanding of the cause of problems in the world. Christian religion, particularly the doctrine of original sin, placed the locus of evil in our world squarely in the hearts of men. The implication of the doctrine of original sin implied that there never was going to be a perfect world since man was imperfectable. Lurking in the heart of every man was the capacity to go bad.

With the effective demise of religion, several ideas converged to replace man's metaphysical understanding of evil and the problem of suffering in this world. These were:

1) Atheism which mainly came about as a consequence of strict empiricism and from which the denial of any transcendental value originates.
2) The idea of scientific progress. The spectacular advances of science led weak minds to believe that every problem was solvable with this method .
3) Socialism, with its own version of original sin, "structuralism". Now socialism taught that the inequities of this earth were due to power structures which exploited one group for the benefit of another.  Hence the PC crowd tend to view the world within this context. They view the world as comprising  of victims, oppressors and "good people". The "good people" being the elect, those building the better world.
4) Socialistic understanding of social pathology. According to socialism, evil was the result of "oppressive" power structures which placed one group above the others in an exploitative relationship. Socialism tends to view life within a zero-sum frame.
5) Consequently "heaven on earth" could only be achieve by the elimination of exploitative structures.
6) Furthermore, Socialism taught that man's misery was due deficiencies in his environment and that with rectification of his educational and material means, he would become perfectible.

In effect, PC is the secular religion of materialistic Utopianism.  This religion's most toxic component however is its understanding of evil; structuralism. It's this understanding of "evil" that motivates the most destructive aspects of PC. Anything that claims that it is better than anything else is seen to be an instrument of oppression as it is attempting to introduce a "hierarchical structure". Any claim that man is better than women, is oppression. Any claims that white is better than black is oppression. Any "exclusion" is oppression. Any claim to absolute truth is an oppressive mechanism. What PC is aiming at is the elimination of any hierarchical structures (except its own).  It's only when all hierarchy is destroyed will a new age of universal happiness bloom.

It is why PC is such a difficult to recognise (and kill) Hydra. People think it is about feminism, racism, economic socialism and so on. Where in reality its about destroying any system of values (apart from its own) that can show that A is better than B.  It's inimical to Christianity since Christianity aggressively asserts there is a good and a bad.

According to the PC crowd, the people who share their view clearly "get it". Any one who does not get with the program is clearly a reactionary and appropriate target of censure or opprobrium.(The reaction is dependant on the host culture. In North Korea you get shot, in Sweden you get counseling) Anyone who puts forward that A is better than B is clearly a racist, sexist, homophobe, evil capitalist and so on. So like all religions PC has its "saved" and its "damned".

Curiously, the democratic idea is in "synch" with the PC program. While democracy is not essential to PC, it does condition men to moral relativism by asserting that all men are equal. Everyone's "lifestyle" choices are the same.