Political Correctness, albeit animated by a spirit that hates commerce and capitalism, thrives and is aided by the impulse toward arbitrary and inappropriate and illogical free-association of images of sex and power. To persuade inattentive marks to purchase their products, advertisers merely juxtapose one image with another: a healthy cowboy with an unhealthy cigarette, a nubile nymph next to a cold metal car, a comic polar bear sipping a soft drink. Such arbitrary mixing of images can only be taken seriously by populations whose poetic imaginations are utterly corrupt.
By the poetic imagination, I mean that faculty in man which makes and apprehends metaphors and archetypes (particularly those literal metaphors called words and ideas) and associates those metaphors to their proper emotions and passions.
Unfortunately, while the faculty seems instinctive, it is not. Like the conscience, it must be trained and domesticated in order to render the young fit for civilization.
It is not natural (that is, not instinctive) for a boy to feel it is sweet and decorous to die for the ashes of the fathers and the altars of the gods; but this must be inculcated into him, along with a sense of honor that forbids him to steal even when he is hungry and even when no one is looking. Otherwise, in a land of no patriots where all theft is licit, the soldiers will not march and the workingmen will not work.
Poetry, when it is licit, is the attempt to train the young imagination to prefer fit and decent metaphors and images, and to have the decent and apt emotional reactions to objects, concepts and events he may encounter. It is unnatural for the youth to react to every image of fatherhood and authority with jeering and defiance, and therefore the poetical imagery which portray all fathers, literal or figurative, as buffoons and tyrants in order to train the imagination of the young so that this seems normal, is likewise unnatural. See the nearest Disney cartoon for an example of fathers either buffoonish or tyrannous.
The young must be taught to love the beautiful, the just, and the good, and to hate what is ugly, unjust, and corrupted.
All of modern art is the pedagogic attempt to use the prestige of art to promote the false concept that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or, in other words, is that attempt to avert, subvert, and invert the formation of natural emotional associations in the young.
Political Correctness, also called Cultural Marxism, is a theory of semantics that has the same goal and operates in the same way as modern art. It attempts to use the prestige of courtesy and ‚Äúsensitivity‚ÄĚ to promote the idea that words are labels without truth value, whose only value is as tools of social engineering, to manipulate oneself and others.
Words are weapons and opiates. The attempt is to avert, subvert, and invert the formation of natural linguistic associations between word and object in the young. It is the attempt to destroy both poetry in the heart and philosophy in the soul.
Have you noticed how flat and sterile poems and plays and films that adhere to Political Correctness must perforce make themselves? This is because poetry serves truth whereas Political Correctness serves propaganda. There can be no true beauty in the words, no honest emotions in the characters, neither realistic nor romanticized actions in the plot, and no deep philosophy in the themes.
The core of Political Correctness is to substitute propaganda words, phrases and thoughts, for true ones. The words are selected based on their usefulness to the heart, not their truth value. They are like advertising jingles, or the cries of cheerleaders urging the fans.
The heart of which I speak is filled with hate.
What you call romance, they call hereto-normative tyranny, and the rape culture. It is something to hate. What you call the bravest, freest and greatest nation in history, they call AmeriKKKa. More something to hate. What you call the justice and fairplay of our legal system, they call lies erected to support systematic oppression and patriarchy. More hate. What you call freedom to trade and own property, they call Capitalism, and call it oppression, and call it slavery. More hate. What you call color-blindness and judging each man by his merits, they call White Privilege. More hate. What you call courtesy, they call micro-aggression. More hate. What you call polite disagreement with them, they call racism, they call hatred, and they call psychosis. More and more and more hate.
Why do it? Let me list the benefits:
Hatred gives zest and meaning to an otherwise empty mind; it establishes camaraderie for the lonely, making them feel part of something great; it provides drive to sluggards; it adorns the unrighteous with a luster of moral superiority; it gives the craven bravery.
Political Correctness is a philosophy which releases the true believer from the labor of logical philosophy or the burden of believing anything. It wins all arguments by a preemptive surrender of the mind to the abyss. If there is no truth, there is no argument.
And above all, there is no beauty in their poetry, no melody in their music, no point to their plays, no plot to their novels. This is because there is no beauty in a diet of pure hatred, nothing to admire, nothing to uplift the heart.
The heart filled with rottenness and seething with corruption cannot be uplifted. And it cannot tell a story worth beans.
Political Correctness has one and only one story to tell: the glorious revolution of the plucky rebels against wicked and evil Rich Uncle Pennybags, the mascot of Parker Brothers‚Äô Monopoly Game. Sometimes the rebels are against Elmer Gantry or Nehemiah Scudder or Simon Legree.
The problem is that, aside from this one rebel story, Political Correctness is only fit for satire.
Anything else, and PC eliminates the tension, and the moral compass, needed for a satisfying tale. You cannot write a politically correct love story, because love stories require masculine heroes and feminine heroines.
You cannot write a politically correct war story, unless the story is about corruption in the ranks, because masculine virtues of bravery or boldness or chivalry toward a fallen foe are all incorrect. You cannot even write a decent Cowboys-and-Indians story, not even if it is placed on Mars as a Cowboys-and-Martians story, because PC does not allow you to cheer for Cowboys. They are the wrong race.
PC does not allow you to cheer for fighting men. They are the wrong ‚Äėgender.‚Äô And fighting is wrong (except when plucky rebels kill Rich Uncle Pennybags, etc.)
Hatred is just not that dramatic. The one and only story Hatred tells is about getting even with your betters.
First, drama is dramatic when it is smart rather than simple, trite, or childish. The best dramas have plots and characters clear enough for a child to understand, but involve layers and levels of meaning scholars can study fruitfully. Political Correctness, by its very nature, is simplistic and preachy, hardly rising above allegory. It merely ruins a story to turn it into a sermon.
Second, in a real drama, no answers are simple. Even Darth Vader in a childish space opera movie reaches a moment of true drama when he is revealed to be the father of Luke Skywalker, because the possibility opens either for pagan tragedy or Christian redemption. Neither tragedy nor redemption, if handled dramatically, would be simple.
Third, in a drama, in order to be drama, the boundary conditions or basic axioms of the plot have to be unchangeable. When Antigone faces the choice either to obey the gods and bury her traitorous brother, or to obey the King and leave her brother‚Äôs corpse to rot, there is no drama if Antigone can simply ask the King to write her a waiver, or if the gods reveal that their laws are merely guidelines and suggestions. All drama with a moral conflict requires a moral code against which other desires and needs and demands, including moral demands, batter themselves.
Fourth, and related to the last point, a story where nothing is unchangeable, there is no room for conflict and hence no room for drama. If you put your characters in a world where changing the names of things changed reality, there is no room for conflict. Everything is accomplished at a word. Recall how in Disney’s Aladdin the main plot point, that the hero could not wed the heroine because a law forbad it, evaporated in the most unconvincing fashion merely when the father of the bride decreed it no longer to exist. By PC standards, he was flexible and did the right thing. It also obviated the drama.
Fifth, in PC tales, the characters have to be stereotyped according to excruciatingly flat Politically Correct stereotypes. This is especially true of racial stereotypes. Suppose you are doing a King Arthur movie. In a non-PC version, everyone would be English, or at least Norman. In a PC version one must introduce a token Black without making him look like a token, and he cannot be the comedy relief, or the traitor, so he has to be the wiseman and adviser (but without seeming to be the ‚Äúmagical negro‚ÄĚ). But if he talks with a British accent, he might be accused of being inauthentic, or trying to ‚Äúsound white.‚ÄĚ Maybe he can play Sir Palamedes, the Saracen Knight, and be a Muslim from Ethiopia, but only if he does not convert to Christianity (as Palamedes does in the Arthur tales) and only if it is emphasized that the Muslim civilization was superior to the Christian. This will not save the author from being savaged, however. If there is not the right mix of non-Christians, non-Whites, and non-Males on the Round Table, not to mention persons of alternate sexuality.
But it is really hard to get drama out of flat characters. And Political Correctness makes it hard to differentiate members of the oppressor and oppressed class. Any member of the one or the other has to behave according to PC stereotypes. If you have a member of the designated evil class, white Christian males, act like a normal person, a mix of good and evil, his goodness will be denounced as that author‚Äôs attempt to flatter or whitewash his class evils.
Likewise, if you have a member of the designated good class act like a normal person, a mix of good and evil, his evil will be denounced as that author‚Äôs hatred and bigotry against (1) whatever class the character is a member of (2) whatever class the accuser is reminded of when he looks at the character.
Sixth, since the standards change, and change arbitrarily, a politically correct drama must of its nature avoid any controversial material. But drama is controversy. In a good drama, even the villain has a moment to say his piece, give his side of the story, utter his justification. PC would not allow Rich Uncle Pennybags to make a speech extolling the benefits of capitalism because the writer dare not reveal that he understands the enemy‚Äôs doctrines.
Drama requires a moral compass, and that Political Correctness lacks it.
And to have a moral sense requires a soul. To be able to put the moral sense your soul reveals to you into words and into deed, that requires philosophy. Political Correctness rots these also, as we shall see in our next episode.
Don’t miss last week’s column: Political Correctness Rots the Brain.
John C. Wright is a retired attorney and newspaperman who was only once hunted by the police. He is a graduate of St. John College (home of Mortimer Adler’s “Great Books Program“). In 2004 he foreswore his lifelong atheism and joined the Roman Catholic Church. He has published over 10 SF novels, including one nominated for a Nebula award, and was described by Publisher‚Äôs Weekly as “this fledgling century‚Äôs most important new SF talent.” He currently lives in fairytale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter, and their four children.