Always someone more socially just than you…

I suppose that’s not actually true if you’re willing to go the full Pol Pot, but it’s what popped into my mind reading Jonathan Chait’s widely read lament over the rejuvenation of political correctness (which he bizarrely thinks has been dormant for the past two decades) and its propensity to terrorize not only conservatives but also its fellow liberals.  Chait assures readers that he is a liberal, one of the good guys in the Left’s Manichean worldview.  That is, he shares the same totalitarian goals as the politically correct (rewriting human nature and civilization to eliminate “racism” and “sexism”) but not their totalitarian means.  The way Leftists cower before their extremist factions makes me glad not to be in their orbit at all.  (Then again, the writers mentioned in that article can write under their real names.)  In opposition to PC’s bullying tactics, Chait affirms liberalism’s faith in reason, that is, a confidence that people can be carried along by the Leftist tide without resorting to coercion.

I don’t think reasonable liberals appreciate how much the power of reason for their cause depends on its ugly coercive accompaniment.  On its own, reason can do very little to convert nonliberals into liberals.  The arguments for liberalism nearly always involve question-begging invocations of a “freedom” or “equality” whose authority we don’t recognize; such appeals have little power over someone who hasn’t already committed himself to the Lockean nonsense.  In a freer market of ideas, the basic assumptions underlying universalism, democracy, and sexual nominalism could be subjected to critique and repudiation.  The debate over basic principles doesn’t happen because even moderate liberals–even the ones who call themselves “Republicans”–agree that these should be off limits and that the enforcement mechanisms of PC are appropriate against patriarchists, monarchists, and ethnonationalists.  About a year ago, I noted that the rules of public respectability in America allow a man to oppose gay marriage but forbid him to have any reason for doing so, since reasons would have to involve forbidden beliefs in distinct sex roles, nonliberal sexual morality, and/or a social interest in regulating sex and paternity.  With the game set up like this, there’s only one way it can proceed.  Liberals easily imagine that the operation of reason must necessarily be to commend an ever more rigorous implementation of liberal principles, because that is how it operates in the current environment.

7 Responses

  1. Jonathan Chait is less logical than Alain Badiou, who for so long held the chair of philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure: “If you say A – equality, human rights and freedoms – you should not shirk from its consequences and gather the courage to say B – the terror needed to really defend and assert the A.”

    He insists that “”Materialist dialectics assumes, without particular joy, that, till now, no political subject was able to arrive at the eternity of the truth it was deploying without moments of terror. Since, as Saint-Just asked: ‘What do those who want neither Virtue nor Terror want?’ His answer is well-known: they want corruption – another name for the subject’s defeat.” (Logiques des mondes, Paris: Seuil 2006)

    In comparison to the French, the American Left has always struck me as lacking moral seriousness.

  2. As Steve Sailer points out, Chait’s alleged reservations about PC do not lead him and have not led him to ride to the defense of Watson or Richwine.

    This is not particularly difficult to understand, but to understand it you have to leave the world of ideas far behind.

  3. Bonald:

    The debate over basic principles doesn’t happen because even moderate liberals–even the ones who call themselves “Republicans”–agree that these should be off limits and that the enforcement mechanisms of PC are appropriate against patriarchists, monarchists, and ethnonationalists. About a year ago, I noted that the rules of public respectability in America allow a man to oppose gay marriage but forbid him to have any reason for doing so, since reasons would have to involve forbidden beliefs in distinct sex roles, nonliberal sexual morality, and/or a social interest in regulating sex and paternity.

    Exactly — the only restraint permitted on liberalism by those on the mainstream right is an amorphous ‘common sense’. Said differently, the only exceptions permitted are unprincipled exceptions:

    http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/000848.html

    This naturally gives rise to PC, as discursive camouflage of the substantive things we aren’t allowed to talk about but which still exhibit weak influence within the Overton window through meticulously unprincipled appeals to common sense.

  4. The conglomerate opinions that Zippy calls “common sense” consists of arbitrary presuppositions that it is wicked not to see as self-evident truths. If they are, to you, self evident, then liberalism follows. If they are not, then you are a very bad man.

  5. The Revolution eats another of its children.

  6. Good post, Bonald.

    A superficial study of the history of the term “political correctness” has lead me to understand that there have been basically three uses of the term:
    1. It was, during the decades right after the Bolshevik revolution, a term used by Western socialists to describe Bolshevism as “politically correct” in its agenda but “morally incorrect” in its means.
    2. During the Civil Rights movement, new vocabulary that was introduced for ideological reasons, like “Native American” and “African American”, was called “politically correct” when used, and people who were not catching up with the agenda were called “politically incorrect”. I suppose the idea of “PC gone mad” also falls into this category.
    3. The last use is the ironic use of the term against its authors .
    So, the very way of thinking that Chait demonstrates is the same as the logic of “politically correct but morally incorrect”.

    Also, I agree that any irreligious worldview/ideology needs to modify the traditional politics of a country in order to spread significantly. Every people that has become irreligious (indifferent to religion counts too) has gone through two things.
    First, separation of Church and State – in order to prevent the Church from holding a cultural hegemony over the nation. Christians, in contrast, have lived as a minority in the Roman empire and mostly evangelized without influencing politics, and prayed that the heathen find Christ. This was obviously not enough for the influential atheists whose ultimate purpose was to “immanentize the eschaton”.
    Second, an irreligious institution and doctrinal corpus had to compete with the Church in a “free market of ideas”. Of course, that means that irreligious institution was easily the State, though sometimes it was a revolutionary organization or a secret society. Even if the State was not following an explicitly irreligious policy (like the French Republics), most of the policies followed a non-Christian way of thinking.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: