Being “Against Political Correctness” Is A Fool’s Errand

“Political correctness” is the most maligned and attacked concept of our time.

It’s fair to say that since the 90s, multiple movements have sprung up making the Anti-PC stance a core part of their platform. At the time of this writing, the major players include the Alt-Right, MRAs and other groups geared toward masculinity, Red State populists, cultural libertarians and the sort of liberals who talk about the “Regressive Left,” as well as European anti-EU, identitarian movements.

Donald Trump’s campaign is often described as the Anti-PC bid for the White House. I sympathize with the aims of some of these movements and at least share the animosity of the rest towards the current ideological orthodoxy.

However, the Anti-PC frame has a problem. Namely: which PC?

Political correctness has a specific meaning: an idea, statement, or action is politically correct if it is consistent with the stated orthodoxies of a group, institution, or ideology. The first discussions using this term were amongst various currents of radical leftists debating how closely to follow the Stalinist line taken by many Communist parties. Radical leftists who were less than enthusiastic about, say, the Ukrainian Holodomor, charged hard-line Communists with taking a stance which was politically correct but strategically bad or morally damning.

Now to emphasize the problem, imagine opposing Communists on the grounds of their political correctness. Of course, it’s a ridiculous notion. No anticommunist worth the name–from Joe McCarthy to Baron Roman “God of War” von Ungern-Sternberg–ever went head to head with the Reds over their political correctness. They fought Communism because it was subversive to their values, religion, people, and way of life. And they named the enemy bluntly.

The Anti-PC frame’s problem is that it fails to do this. Moreover, it fails to realize that in terms of orthodoxies, every in-group has its own political correctness. Zionists don’t last long on the Alt-Right. Dismissing pot or free speech raises serious eyebrows among the libertarians. And as Trump supporters have realized, telling Red Tribe media that public health care might not be a bad idea or that Bush lied generates one hell of a triggering.

Each group has its orthodoxy. What unites the Anti-PC factions is shared opposition to the ideological orthodoxies of the current nexus of power: the governments, media, and academia of America and its sphere of influence, supported by their allies in business and a legion of NGOs. That power structure is what Moldbug termed the Cathedral. And their doctrine is not “political correctness.” Their doctrine is liberal internationalism, secular humanism, militant globalism, and the Universalist narrative of Social Progress. If there are factions, we might call them Hard Globalists and Soft Globalists. The Red Empire pushes interventionism, the Blue Empire pushes diplomacy and international aid, and both push limitless Free Trade. Israel vs UN. Global marketplace vs international community. You get the idea.

So the core problem with the Anti-PC frame is simply that political correctness is not the problem. The doctrine about which the Cathedral structure is politically correct is the problem. There was a political correctness before the current one, and there will be a new political correctness that replaces it.

Failure to name the beast has consequences when it comes to presenting a truly sovereign alternative. This failure is what leads MRAs to adopt feminist language and stances for their own grievances. The concept of a Regressive Left suggests that the problem is insufficient commitment to Progress. The cultural libertarians demanding that Global Liberalism act more liberal have the same issue. The Red Tribe populists backing Trump (and the Alt-Right joining in) want him to name Islam, restore the border, and Make America Great Again. But at some point, they might need to notice that their Blue Tribe enemies are reading the same constitution they are (and vice-versa for the Blues backing Sanders).

Whoever actually wins the battle to “defeat political correctness” will be in fact winning the battle against the Cathedral structure’s ideological narrative and the enforcement of that narrative’s values.

The strategy of Moldbug and Carlyle consists of worthy powers displacing unworthy ones.

In light of this analysis, the chief goal is not the defeat of political correctness, or even of the particular doctrines themselves, but the displacement of the power structure which benefits from that doctrine. (Of course, any power which achieves this will have developed a doctrine – and a political correctness – of its own.)

Insofar as the Moldbuggian-Carlylean worldview is also opposed to the Cathedral ideology, this distinguishes it from the Anti-PC coalition. Cultural libertarians, Trump supporters, and even the Alt-Right argue about how far right or left the Overton Window ought to go.

The legitimist path is unconcerned with the Overton Window. It asks where a person or institution worthy of loyalty can be found. If none exists, then one must be created.

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  1. Melampus The Seer March 27, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Moving the Overton Window is a tactic not a strategy, but it’s a good tactic.

    Political Correctness is a means to silence opposition to the current order. It’s an important means. One could argue it’s the center of gravity for the communications power of the Cathedral.

    It surely is an error to make the goal of opposition the eradication of political correctness. However, it is not an error to shape the rhetorical situation advantageously by reducing the effects of PC. For one thing, it allows the uncommitted masses to fairly consider other political options. That would seem crucial to building the movement you describe.

  2. Correct. A war on political correctness is a little like the war on terror, in that it is only an attack on a function of an enemy, rather than the essence of what the enemy is. To oppose political correctness in the Modern World on the grounds of ‘muhh free speech’ is degenerate unless it is tactically used to make leftists contradict themselves.

    I would say however that the Overton Window is somewhat important, in that it allows more minds to engage in discource close to Reactionary themes. This would likely be important to ensuring a smooth transition to Reactionary governance. You don’t need the support of ‘the people’, but it definitely helps if Americans begin to say what Russians say about “DERmocracy” (rough translation: rule of excrement).

    1. (This applies to both Mark’s comment and Melampus above):

      I agree that formulating a doctrine sovereign from liberal thought ends up moving the Overton Window if successful. Let me rephrase my comment this way:

      We want to move the Overton Window. How do we do that? We need to understand how some doctrines rise and others fall. The vast majority of Anti-PC factions want to shift the discourse in their direction. However, as we’ve seen on university campuses, this results in getting shut down. Even movements as powerful as Evangelicalism hold little sway in the Cathedral institutions except as tools of the Neocon wing. Therefore, a successful doctrine must either be allied to a power which usurps sovereignty, or must successfully secede from the Cathedral structure. When I say that the legitimist strategy is unconcerned with the O-W, I mean that it doesn’t think that it can gain power by shifting it because the relationship is actually the reverse.

      What Evangelicalism has done is create a counter-network of institutions wherein its leaders control political power. Interestingly, they have learned similar lessons regarding how political power is what ultimately moves the Overton Window:

  3. 'Reality' Doug March 27, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    You confound Political Correctness® the brand name and political correctness a generic term, which is your innovation. We already have generic terms like culture and social norms. A genericized brand name term for the same conceptual space only muddles the mind. The secular religion PC is very powerful precisely because by its definition of qualifying what only by whom the PC Establishment can do no wrong. The title is correct for completely different reasons IMO. Might makes right, and so on. Your mistake is to fight for the public opinion of a public mentally incapable of cultural excellence and not infrequently mere culture itself. Parasites be parasites and sex is more telling than race.

    1. Political correctness goes beyond mere culture. It stems from centers of political power creating certain norms, which in turn is one of the forces which creates a culture. All political power operates in this manner, liberal or not.

      Actually, I think we’re on the same page on culture and “the public”.

  4. There needs to be a political correctness in the sense that there needs to be an official state religion. Enemies of PC correctly identify PC as a religious code. They misidentify the problem however. The problem is not that there is a religious code as such, the problem is that the religious code is unstable and evil and whipping itself up into ever greater instability and evil which makes civilization impossible.

    PC does not need to be replaced with cultural libertarianism or vulgar anti-PC-ism, it needs to be replaced with a truthful, good and worthy public religious code. In my estimation, it ought to be replaced with the PC of the traditionalist Roman Catholic Church.

    1. This is where I started to get frustrated. I agree with the critique of PC here — but in the last line of the piece Mark (Christensen) says, “If no institution worthy of loyalty can be found, one must be created.”

      Well … I’m too tired to create a new institution. But I don’t like any of the existing ones, either. I would apply the logic that “there is always a PC” to the Roman Catholic church itself. It was the PC of the period 400 to 1960 (or 400 to 1650 in the Protestant countries).

      So I don’t believe in it, either.

      I find myself against everybody: the Catholics, the eskimos, the fundamentalists, the New World Order, most of the New Agers … everyone! Everybody’s trying to plug you into their power matrix.

      Except … perhaps … the Zoroastrians. Seems to me that the core cosmological truths were laid out across cultures between 1500 and 500 BC, when you had Hindu, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism etc all get going. Then people came along who wanted to subject the masses (via Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc). Today all we have is bastard power cults, none of which I want any part of.

  5. Well… kinda. “Reality” Doug is right, in that whatever “political correctness” may have meant originally, it has taken on a widely-understood meaning that has some real utility for us. It has come to brand a certain rather glaring hypocrisy of the left, which is that for decades (when they were not in power) they claimed to be the defenders of free speech, but now that they are the ones in power, all of a sudden free speech is an oppressive construct of the white supremacist patriarchal power structure, and if you disagree, then shut the fuck up or else.

    It’s an effective meme that has a lot of traction, and whether or not Mr. Christensen is technically correct about it, we’d be fools to give it up.

    1. Has it, though? In my estimation, the major utility of PC as a concept has been to expose liberal hypocrisy on toleration, free speech, etc. And that’s useful, no doubt. PC is an easy and simple go-to to complain about because it brings up images of nannies and finger-wagging.

      But the cost is that painfully little has been done to map out and deconstruct their doctrines and power structures. Even less has been done to construct alternatives. Hell, we don’t even have a single name for their ideology (Evangelicals say Secular Humanism, Nationalists say Globalism, Moldbug says Universalism…).

      By far the most prominent Anglosphere opposition at the moment are the Cultural Libertarians/counter-“Regressive Left” liberals on the one hand, and the Trump coalition on the other. Neither provides a full, sovereign alternative to the liberal order, unless the Donald has more up his sleeve than anyone realizes.

  6. I think the mere act of being politically incorrect makes you put skin in the game and there is definite merit in that.

    At the same time working from the Moldbug/Carlyle view basically means that reality is on your side. My experience so far is that being ‘shocking’ is FeelGood, but the results are meh. Whereas showing yourself worthy is harder but more fruitful. So agreed.

  7. Mark,

    there are important differences in political orthodoxies. The liberal political correctness is a special case. It is a propagandistic and manipulative attempt to establish utopia on earth with words, speech, pictures and moving pictures. According to it almost nothing bad can happen inside the liberal favored “universe”, inside liberal favored policies, inside liberal favored groups. Almost all significant bad happens outside liberal spheres, in non-liberal circles. Everything is heavily distorted, to the point of ridiculousness. Even large terrorist attacks are explained away in such a way, to such an extent and in such a force, that if one is stupid or pliable enough to believe them, it is as if the terrorist attacks never really happened, or if they happened, it was all non-favored groups fault (racism, not accepting enough, bad habits, which they imitated, discrimination, etc.), which had nothing to do with the attack. It started as manipulation of all the massess, regardless of political orientation, but they are increasingly incredulous, and mock liberal stupidity. The political correctness has, without liberal elites noticing it, started to distort increasingly their own view of reality, it has turned increasingly into a manipulation of liberal elites themselves, thus the liberal information bubble / liberal bubble. Because of this it sometimes feels like mentally handicapped people rule us. Why liberal elites dont notice this? Because they still think they are manipulating only the massess. They think that the alternative to constant lies and manipulation is an almost instant collapse of society to chaos and violence, ultimately universal violence. They have narcissistic bombastic and inflated view of themselves as the only line, only force that separates civilized society from chaos and barbarism. And the illusion that they are doing the manipulation and not manipulated themselves is worsened by the fact that they separate to some extent their view of reality from the propaganda, but it is far from enough. This inadequate separation allows them to think behind the scenes that they are hard nosed realists, when outsiders notice they are in reality deluded dreamwalkers.

    Whatever is the purpose of political orthodoxy, its purpose should not be that elites and massess lose self-destructively their grip on reality, like is happening with political correctness, or that elites entrench themselves to bunkers of their lies and mistakes, like Hitler in his last days, when happenings in the real world and realism start to reassert themselves.

    This is exacerbated by the fact that liberal political correctness is a feminine, nurturing, caring, kind, etc. ideology, as if cold bureaucracy could care. Political correctness has a strong feminine input from women, and liberals favor this input. So what is womans nature? In ancestral families womans central task was reproduction and child caring, and all kinds of smaller related tasks. Mans task was to protect his woman and community together with other men, and to hunt, fish, or otherwise gather resources to his family, mostly this too together with other men. Pregnancy and child caring are delicate things. If woman and unborn child and children are too often or too constantly stessed or fearful, these may damage the unborn childs or childrens development. Thus mans important function is to protect his woman from the outside stresses and fears, to function as a protective buffer between hard reality and family. If man doesnt do this, if man doesnt create relatively stress free environment, woman has natural tendency to complain and be unsatisfied. Woman is bit more accepting to the stresses that originate from the inside of family, because they are more controllable, but not infinitely. So lets say woman is pregnant, and at the same time mens community has received information that enemy tribe has done some moves which could lead to a war in 6 months, maybe in a year, but it is not such an immediate problem, that women must be informed. Men must prepare, but women are not needed in these preparations. Should the man tell his woman? If man tells his woman, woman becomes stressed, maybe the whole six months or years time, and the pregnancy is already stressful. Additional stresses are likely to cause problems to pregnancy. Woman would also complain and be unsatisfied. This would increase mans stresses and distract his attention from more important things. If woman is stressed that whole time there is only downsides to it, no advantages. It is much better that men take care of war preparations among themselves. So the man says to his woman, “Everything is alright, honey, I have all things under control, you dont have to worry, relax honey.” And the woman hums satisfied, smiles and kisses his man.

    So here we can see proto political correctness. Man lies by omission to his woman, and maybe tells some soothing lies on top of that. These same psychological tendencies function today, so every time women are accepted into politics they create tendencies toward political correctness, tendencies to transform political communication into soothing lies. And when women are accepted into politics, men try cater to their tastes, and uphold this false, unrealistic, harmful and self-destructive communication environment, often at dangerous costs.

    In Finland, over 2/3 of Finnish Green party supporters are women. Most conspicuous leaders are men. This party has the most rigid political correctness, and they communicate inside the party almost exclusively about furry animals with the excuse of animal rights or some such reason; non-stressful and non-violent ’emergencies’, like climate change and hunger in some far away country, which allow them to feel like important benefactors by saying something nice about it publicly or sending 5 euros there; supporting some “helping” state and municipal projects, from which they get perhaps support too; etc. The supporters communicate with each other by sending pictures of beautiful sceneries and cute animals and such; debates, let alone conflicts between people or saying something negative about somebody or some group are a big no-no in their public spaces. When a man like me with rough intelligent words from the real world lands into their public space, the effect is like wolf landing to a henhouse. They are totally unprepared, and descend almost into a panic like state. Their leaders advocate all kinds universal holding hands, global friendship, total acceptance, niceness, etc. causes, and open borders of course. When the pressure from the real world becomes too great, and their leaders are finally compelled to say something against evil, like when muslim hordes harassed, raped, robbed and battered thousand of women in Cologne and all over Europe around new year, it is a tortured and stressful process. So the saying leader sinks the small ‘against’ somewhere in the middle of torrents of human rights, friendship between, we must understand, they are good people, etc. The Greens can uphold this mental image of liberal utopia by insulating themselves almost totally from non-liberal sources, and receiving information about them through Green leader filters.

    Our True Finns party’s communication style is preponderantly mens communication, and most of the supporters are men. We have many good women too, like the following Laura Huhtasaari:

    Notice that in our hunter gatherer example womans and mans behavior was approriate. It is only when womens impulses become collective in politics, when it becomes harmful. Collectives of women are not the only or original cause of political correctness, but it is the reason that dropped us over the edge of a high cliff. Thus one of the means to reduce the harmful effect of political correctness is to reduce specifically and consciously womens communication and influence in politics, if they are politically correct, and increase specifically and consciously mens communication and influence in politics, if they realists.

  8. ConantheContrarian March 28, 2016 at 11:05 am

    “… the chief goal is not the defeat of political correctness, or even of the particular doctrines themselves, but the displacement of the power structure which benefits from that doctrine. ”
    Alright, that might be the chief goal, but we might have to dismantle it brick by brick first: Defy the political correctness, expose the lies of their doctrines, etc. Then we displace them.

  9. That comment was a quick comment. I made an improved and polished version of that comment to my blog:

  10. The Dissenting Sociologist March 30, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    In any stratified society, the mass of common people will reserve to itself some set of small privileges, which have the sociological function of making their subjection more bearable by allowing the common people to distinguish their own bottom-tier, but respectable, status from outright pauperism and/or servitude. Accordingly, the plebeian bearers of these privileges guard them quite jealously, and elites foolish enough to try to interdict them do so at peril. In Old Europe, this privilege would mean e.g. the ability of the working man to afford beer or wine; in the New World, where even the very poor can take relatively high standard of living for granted, it means the right to keep and bear arms and, above all, freedom of speech.

    In the present conjuncture, where the Cathedral actually has become reckless and arrogant enough to try to rescind these privileges, Becoming Worthy means taking a public stand in defense of these popular liberties. Who does so not only earns credibility as an organic representative of the people against a menacing and alien elite, but charisma, as a bad-ass rebel who plays by his own rules. (The crowd, a certain leader of the past said, is a woman- and responds to this bad boy the way any woman does).

    Is this so much armchair speculation or LARPing? Consider the rise of Trump for a vivid real-life illustration.

  11. The original idea is of course that free speech was something meant to defend the truth. The left is against free speech lately because they are coming to realize that their positions don’t comport with reality. Maybe it would be best to move beyond “free speech vs. political correctness” since talk is cheap.

  12. Political correctness of every stripe has one thing in common: it is a defense of the core dogma of progressivism—-universal egalitarianism.

    I’ll give you some examples:

    “Gay people have as much right to marriage as straight people because love is love.”
    “Blacks and women make less than white men because some people don’t see that we are all part of the human race and all deserve exact fairness regardless of other factors.”
    “All cultures are essentially equal in value, and so all cultures can live together in the same nation and anyone who doesn’t think so is a racist.”

    Conservatives and anyone on the right generally lose the argument from word go because they tacitly accept the core dogma of the left. After all, no one wants to be the guy who says that this person is less intelligent or less capable than that person.

    It might not be nice, but when we decide how to run a society, we shouldn’t be as concerned with what is nice as what is TRUE. And the truth is, egalitarianism is feel-good nonsense. It has no basis in reality. Some people are poor because they are stupid. Some people are in jail because they are violent.

    If you want to WIN, then you have to reject the dogma that the left supports. Reality is on your side, just no one seems to have the stones to do it.

  13. Political correctness, treated as a liberal ideology, looks at social issues, in particular language and practices, that should be rejected because they are discriminatory or offensive to others. This ideology wants us to internalize the practice of not saying anything unless we make sure that it is true, kind and helpful to the other person. In other words, when there is the slightest possibility of offending someone, don’t speak, or talk about something else where there is 100% agreement in the example of the weather.

  14. I came back across this old gem from Handle tonight and immediately thought of this piece.

    “Darkest Enlightenment.” Here’s to days gone by.

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