Tuesday, March 22, 2011

PC Takes a Licking From Lessing

This is from "Censorship," an essay by Doris Lessing in her book Time Bites, published in 2004:
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.

Truly, we cannot stand being free. Mankind--humankind--loves its chains, and hastens to forge new ones if the old ones fall away.
In closing her essay, Lessing wonders what will follow on the heels of Political Correctness, as PC followed communism:

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.

2 comments:

Moshe Sharon said...

Rod Serling, the writer, director and producer of the popular weekly show called “The Twilight Zone” would appear on camera as the narrator and would say that we all live in a world of imagination and can easily take a wrong turn and step off into the “Twilight Zone.” Little did we know then that Mr. Serling was describing the future post 9/11 world of political correctness. Thus, if he were alive today his narrative would read something like this:
Your are in the Twilight Zone. This is the world of fantasy where terrorists are called “militants” and the war against terror is not a war against the fundamentals of Islam, but a war against a small minority of one hundred million fanatics who “hijacked a peaceful religion”. This is the world of bizarre twists and convoluted turns where murderers and thieves are rewarded with the property of their intended victims and the “road map to peace” requires total surrender to homicidal lunatics.
This is the world beyond reality where atheists pray to themselves in the “Church of Non Belief”. This is the world of imagination in which the officiators of marriages declare, “I now pronounce you husband and husband.” This is the world of denial where threats of genocide are met with open borders and entitlements for all who chose to enter that “unseen” place in the realm of human reflection where right is wrong and left is right. More at http://moshesharon.wordpress.com

scaramouche said...

You're onto something there, Moshe. As someone who grew up watching Rod and the Twilight Zone (both left a lasting impression) I have often thought how precient that show was. For instance, when Islamists natter on about how stupendous sharia is, I am reminded of the TZ episode "To Serve Man" (the one about aliens who pretend to be altruistic but who are actually anything but, their "scripture" To Serve Man" being a book of recipes in which humans are the protein.) And the climate change freaks, the one who have all contingencies covered (if it's getting hotter, that's because of climate change; if it's getting colder, ditto) reminds me of the episode wherein everyone's suffering from intense heat because the Earth is drawing closer to the Sun, but, no, it's really a dream, and the Earth is moving away from the Sun and getting colder.

And that episode where the freckled-face lad tyrannizes his family and the people in his town by "thinking" them into the cornfield when they do something to displease him--he's any number of capricious tyrants, including "human rights" commissars and other enforcers of PC.