The most powerful mental tyranny in what we call the free world is Political Correctness, which is both immediately evident, and to be seen everywhere, and as invisible as a kind of poison gas, for its influences are often far from the source, manifesting as a general intolerance. The history books will say something like this: 'When certitudes of communism began to dissolve them collapsed with them--but slowly in some countries--the dogmas of Socialist Realism; but at once stepped into the vacuum Political Correctness. This began as a sensitive, honest and laudable attempt to remove the racial and sexual biases encoded in language, but it was at once taken over by the political hysterics, who made of it another dogma. In no time, from one end of the world to the other, everyone was saying, "It is Politically Correct", "I am afraid it isn't Politically Correct", as if ordered to do so. There could hardly be a conversation without it, and PC was used often as the Victorians used "It isn't done", meaning socially improper, or to bolster the orthodoxies of "received opinion", or even to criticise the eccentric. The new tyranny soon took over whole universities, particularly in the United States, departments of universities, colleges, schools, dictating habits of criticism, suffocating thought in some areas of scientific research, dimming the natural ferments of intellectual life. The submission to the new creed could not have happened so fast and so thoroughly if communist rigidities had not permeated the educated classes everywhere, for it was not necessary to have been a communist to absorb an imperative to control and limit; minds had already been thoroughly subdues to the idea that free enquiry and the creative arts must be subject to the higher authority of politics.In closing her essay, Lessing wonders what will follow on the heels of Political Correctness, as PC followed communism:
Truly, we cannot stand being free. Mankind--humankind--loves its chains, and hastens to forge new ones if the old ones fall away.
What next? What should we be looking out for, what should we be guarding against?In 2004 when this essay was published it should have been obvious what was next: Islamism, and the alliance between Islamists and leftist purveyors of PC.