Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Boundless Compassion of the Politically Incorrect

Look, I know I’m not the world’s greatest psychologist. But I’m still a psychologist, and I’m still a compassionate guy. You can’t fake that. You can’t jump through all of the hoops required to become a psychologist without demonstrating your boundless sensitivity at every step along the way. Without that sensitivity I could never be such a bleeding-mind conservative.

I’m still mulling over this epic piece on political correctness by a blogger named Fjordman (HT: our charlemagne man at LGF). It’s very long and I haven’t even finished it yet, but he comes to many of the same conclusions I have about this noxious phenomenon. His essential thesis is that the West may have defeated economic Marxism with the fall of the Soviet Union, but that this simply obscured the extent to which cultural Marxism had extended its tentacles into the very spirit of the West.

Fjordman agrees with me that political correctness is no joke. Rather, it is a genuine collective mind parasite in a quite literal way. Just as our bodies can become infected by viruses that hijack the host in order to reproduce themselves, history demonstrates time and again that pathological ideas can sweep through groups and do the same thing. It wouldn’t be so worrisome if PC simply destroyed the mind of the infected person, but the virus spreads and can take over whole institutions, like academia, or most every professional group. It is a cliché in conservative circles that every human enterprise that is not explicitly conservative will eventually become liberal. PC is one of the reasons why. It is why Republicans veer to the left just as soon as they are given power. Most Republicans are not explicitly conservative, like a Ronald Reagan, so it is as if they have no immunity from the PC virus.

My field of psychology is a case in point. It has almost been ruined by political correctness. It is not just unethical but literally illegal for a psychologist to maintain certain elementary truths. If you utter them aloud, you could easily be investigated by the Board of Psychology and have your license yanked. You could never be licensed to begin with if you were to affirm a belief in these truths during the course of your licensing exam.

Fjordman writes that,

“Political Correctness kills. It has already killed thousands of Western civilians, and if left unchecked it may soon kill entire nations or, in the case of Europe, entire continents.... Islam is only a secondary infection, one that we could otherwise have had the strength to withstand. Cultural Marxism has weakened the West and made us ripe for a takeover. It is cultural AIDS, eating away at our immune system until it is too weak to resist Islamic infiltration attempts. It must be destroyed, before it destroys us all.”

“The Leftist-Islamic alliance will have profound consequences. Either they will defeat the West, or they will both go down in the fall. We never really won the Cold War as decisively as we should have done. Marxism was allowed to endure, and mount another attack on us by stealth and proxy.

“... At present, PC prospers by disguising itself. Through defiance, and through education on our own part (which should be part of every act of defiance), we can strip away its camouflage and reveal the Marxism beneath the window-dressing of ‘sensitivity,’ ‘tolerance’ and ‘multiculturalism.’”

Precisely. You see, the world has been turned upside down. It actually takes a compassionate person to realize that “Multiculturalism is not about tolerance or diversity,” and that “it is an anti-Western hate ideology designed to dismantle Western civilization.” Nothing sensitive or compassionate about that.

There is also nothing compassionate about violently attacking the foundation of thought. All religious traditions agree--or should agree anyway--that there is no doctrine higher than Truth. Truth is the highest virtue, so a systematic assault on Truth itself must be regarded not just as a nuisance, but as satanic. This is what satan does. You don’t have to believe in wind to see the effects of the wind. Nor do you have to believe in satan to see his vast influence in the world, which starts with undermining Truth, the logos.

Fjordaman includes an excellent quote by Theodore Dalrymple, who notes that the purpose of communist propaganda “was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to cooperate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”

This post has veered in a direction I hadn’t intended, but I awakened this morning pondering the spiritual reality that allows PC to flourish. The one area where I would deviate from Fjordman is in tying PC too closely to the specific ideology of Marxism. For there is a much deeper structure present, atop which Marxism is merely as wave is to ocean. I believe that PC is the faux form of thinking that goes hand in hand with this deeply spiritual condition. Remember, it is an error to think that spirituality connotes “good.” Rather, since spirituality exists on the vertical axis, there is good spirituality and bad spirituality. As we descend down the vertical we encounter various degrees of bad spirituality---new age fantasists, paganism, wicca, obligatory atheism, nazism, all spiritually pathological conditions. As I have said before, Marx was simply the anti-Moses with a reverse Sinai revelation, one of many such left-hand revelations.

Let’s move from the abstract to the concrete and bring it down to the personal level. Being that I am a compassionate soul, I hestitate to even use the names of the people I’m going to discuss, but I found these two posts this morning on dailykos. They both serve as outstanding “confessions” of the bereft spiritual state I am discussing.

One is entitled “My Dilemma.” The writing is sometimes incoherent, but I believe you can get the essential point. The writer is struggling with the gulf between reality and the revolutionary, utopian image in her head that tells her how reality ought to look:

“It is funny, my psychology. I'm a revolutionary in my mind that makes less than acceptable compromises with my life.... And that train of thought is a lie too.”

“What really is the price of revolution? Can we do it while maintaining the illusions? What is revolution? Would any of the majority of this site, with kids, jobs, homes, retirements, survive that?”

“And here is my ultimate question. Can we ever achieve a radically egalitarian society? It is the only thing that drives my thought. It is the only thing that drives my music. It is the only thing that drives me to still live.”

“I hope that in whatever we do, we express the life we wish we lived, and come to peace with our regrets. Because between those two, is the not only the life we should have lived, but the life of homo sapiens.”

Like I said, pretty incoherent, but this is the spiritual state of the purely horizontal person who is deeply depressed and disappointed that heaven does not exist on earth. Therefore, perpetual revolution is the only alternative, until there are no possessions and we achieve a radically egalitarian society. She says it herself: this is the only thing that drives her thought and gives her a reason to live. Living in this painful gap between ugly reality and beautiful fantasy is all there is for poor homo sapiens.

This is the “reality based community,” so immersed in a utopian fantasy that life would be unworthy of living in the absence of the fantasy.

A second writer confesses that he “thought I was losing my mind after the last election. Bush won, Kerry lost--though all the exit polls argued the other way. That week, I lost my religion at a meditation retreat.”

Here again, religion is confused with purely horizontal fantasies about how the world is supposed to be. Yes, it is religion, but it is an entirely infantile religion. The writer continues, describing his deep disorientation. Note the astonishing degree of psychological projection:

“I've felt nuts for awhile.... Orwell-speak was now the norm.... Every day the news was full of stories about an administration gone wild with hate, revenge, and a lust for power and greed. We had gone to war for no reason and nobody made much of a fuss. Anyone who railed against them was labeled a ‘crazy liberal.’ An entire industry of hate speech grew up around us...."

Note as well the cognitive projection, for projection doesn’t only involve emotions. Rather, the entire disturbed mechanism of thought can be projected into others, making them appear “crazy”:

“I've been on the other side of the looking glass so long now I didn't think there was a place to go. After 30 years in D.C., it hurt to watch my hometown change. The place always sucks when Republicans are in charge. They're just plain nasty and they can't argue logically for shit (!).... On the Metro, you would hear idiots supporting Bush. It was hard. I worked on letting go of the anger, but it was killing me.... it was breaking my heart."

But then he had an epiphany, a spiritual rebirth. He went into hock to attend “YearlyKos” in Vegas. This is where the compassionate part of me nearly weeps, because it really is heartbreaking:

“I got a chance to move to the Pacific Northwest and things got better, even though I hated my job.... [But] I was one of the millions of Americans who charged my credit card up last month--but mine was for YearlyKos. I'll be paying it off for a long time, but it was worth it to get back my faith.... [It] awoke something that died in me a few years ago.”

“All I could think after the last election was how the labels we use for religious beliefs separate us from each other. That seemed to me the opposite of religion's purpose. Raised Catholic, I ran from churches as soon and as fast as I could. Buddhism worked for me for a long time, but eventually that seemed just another label too.... I'd never felt the love of community you were supposed to feel in a parish or a sangha, but I felt it this weekend at YearlyKos.”

But the inevitable disillusion is coming. It’s just a matter of time.

“Once the shock wears off this week, I'll get down to work. I'm already writing down ideas and working on the first steps I think I can do for Oregon. I no longer feel crazy or alone. I feel like justice could be within reach and things might not necessarily have to go down the tubes. Maybe there was magic in last night's full moon.”

That last sentence is true. It is moon-magic. That’s why we call them lunatics and moonbats. It's sad, but one cannot allow compassion for the sadness to obscure the fact that they want to put us out of their existential misery, even if we don't survive the procedure. No thanks. Just heal yourself first. Only then will you even be in a position to diagnose, much less heal, the rest of the world.


jwm said...

Here's another link to the roots of PC dogma:

(Thanks BabbaZee)


dilys said...

JWM's link to Hitchens' essay refers to the "ketman" essay in Milosz' The Captive Mind that is so worthy of study, reflecting Milosz' close observation of the captive mind under the Soviet. Interestingly, he traces it back to Islamic dissimulation. Connected with J's other recent link, we have to begin considering the thread of The Lie, and ask who's yer daddy...?

"Before it leaves the lips, every word must be evaluated as to its consequences. A smile that appears at the wrong moment, a glance that is not all it should be can occasion dangerous suspicions and accusations. Even one's gestures, tone of voice, or preference for certain kinds of neckties are interpreted as signs of one's political tendencies."

PC starts as the imposition on our thoughts, opinions, and privacy. It ends by corrupting us. Us, not just the original liars.

"There are occasions when silence no longer suffices, when it may pass as an avowal. Then one must not hesitate. Not only must one deny one's true opinon, but one is commanded to resort to all ruses in order to deceive...Then one acquires the multiple satisfactions [of deceit and survival]..."

This, and the book that contains it, is IMO a particularly important and accessible document to associate our thinking with. "Aesthetic ketman" helps diagnose where lies and agendas are present. Modern conservatives may be congratulating ourselves in this area before we look closely enough.

And yes, the desperation visible at Kos and, earlier, MoveOn, are heartbreaking, sheep begging for a shepherd. I remember posts in 2004 that expressed depression when Howard Dean was falling in the polls, a depression the true believers urged each other to battle by putting another $100 check in the mail. There is a real spirituality there, and of what kind? Speaking of neckties ....

The Oracle said...

Bob, you mentioned that in order to be immune from the PC virus you must be explicitly conservative. I think I know what you mean by that, but I’m not sure. I think you mean to hold a set of values and principles and not compromise on them for convenience. Of course reality is the best teacher so your principles need to be reflected in reality or there not much good. I think this is an important point. All humans need defenses against sloppy thinking. Am I close or do you mean something else?

CatoRenasci said...

I think, almost paradoxically, the true student of Nietzsche is immune to political correctness as well - read closely Der Tolle Mensch (the Madman) from Froehliche Wissenschaft (The Gay Science) for his discussion about how mankind has itself killed god without being aware of having done the deed. Nietzsche was deeply spiritual and moral despite his deep assault on conventional thought and sentimentality. Unfortunately, most minds are either not strong enough, or not inclined to do the mental work

will said...

Well, it's been a long time coming, all these legions of the spiritually dispossessed, and it's all been forged in the infernal regions, of that I have no doubt.

Much of, maybe most of, the world has gone under. Not here in the USA, though, not totally. There's a sizable number of people here who have awakened to the threat, who hold onto the Truth - I wonder sometimes if this time we're living in wasn't the prime reason Divine Providence saw the USA into being.

It'll be a struggle, but, given that it may be the time that (many)Americans discover what this country really is in the deepest spiritual sense, then we'll eventually prevail. We'll prevail because the Truth is what it is. So let's not lose heart.

copithorne said...

When you believe that the ego can purify the soul -- rather than the other way around -- then the ego moves in and sets up concrete fortifications. The ego feels some security behind its fortifications and this feeling can mimic spiritual equananimity. But actually it is a progressively claustrophobic prison of solipsism and illusion.

It can take a lot of suffering to dislodge that kind of neurosis.

Your post here is a breathtakingly comprehensive projection of this dilemma onto others.

One caution that can come out of this is that it is crucial in the spiritual life to be accountable to a religious community and/or a living teacher. If you think you are on the spiritual path and you are not accountable to a teacher and community you are prone to be strengthening the ego rather than surrendering it. All the teachers and traditions agree on this point.

Petey said...

Whew. Good thing the One Cosmos community is a community. Nevertheless, Truth is true irrespective of whether or not Copithorne and his community believe it, a banality that is proven every day by the lunatic communities of the left.

Thankfully, truth is antecedent to man and therefore available to any adequate intellect, not just the kooky Copithorne community, whatever it happens to be (since he hasn't said. Thus far, all we know is that they worship a gingham co-sleeper).

jwm said...

Thanks for posting the link to the psychopolitics site. That's an annoying feature of Blogger- it doesn't allow posting of a long url address. I tried to set up an account, but it kept telling me there was already a jwm registered here.

Political correctness: substituting uncomfortable truths with paliative lies. Feeeeelings- wo wo wo feeeeeeelings.


will said...

PC leads directly to the campus (and elsewhere) Speech Code.

When I was in grad school, a group of us students was lectured by a charming woman who came in to lay down the Speech Code. Her first words to the assembled were, "Now, nobody's taking away your free speech. Don't misunderstand, you can say anything you want. But do understand, there will be consequences regarding what you say. "

Now, I ask you - is this not a bit like Stalin saying to the Kulaks of The Ukraine, "Hey, everyone, you don't have to collectivize your farms like I ask you! You can do what you want with your farms, they're your farms, after all! I'm just saying that if you don't collectivize like I ask you, there's going to be consequences". (like 15 mil starved to death, as it happened, courtesy Stalin)

This kind of sleight-of-tongue, this doublespeak is integral to PC thought. They disarm you with assurances that all is kosher with their version of the state of the union, and they can toss it off so quickly and even charmingly, its effect can be almost subliminal. And their well-trained speakers know how to spiel it to max effect. It's as Orwellian as "1984". It's evil.

Joe said...

Bob, I drop by to read your blog every now and then and that is one excellent post. Thankyou.

I'd also like to thank Copithorne for his comment which contained an excellent oblique warning which I intend to keep and pass on:

Coptithorne said: <">One caution that can come out of this is that it is crucial in the spiritual life to be accountable to a religious community and/or a living teacher. If you think you are on the spiritual path and you are not accountable to a teacher and community you are prone to be strengthening the ego rather than surrendering it. All the teachers and traditions agree on this point. <">

The last sentence in that paragraph stands out very visibly as a warning against all the words that go before it.

The idea that those who would desire to wield authority over us INSIST that the only true spiritual path is through submission to their authority. That's one scary idea, a sure way to become a slave to others' madness.

It is true Copithorne, we can achieve real spiritual gain by making ourselves accountable.... Not to those who demand it as their right- but rather, by being a student of; the all, its creator and everyone in it, and holding ourselves accountable with regard to them through recourse to our personal values.

Though apparantly unintentional, you words were a succinct reminder of the dangers inherent in submission. Thanks :)

Michael Andreyakovich said...

Indeed. Submission to any authority other than the Ultimate Authority is innately distasteful to me.

In this world, I only acknowledge the authority of those who will let me live as I please, provided I do no harm. Those who demand that all must live as THEY please, with full surrender and without compromise, are not worthy of trust - and there are extremists on BOTH ends of the spectrum who are guilty of making such demands.

Connecticut Yankee said...

Bob-- What you say about the effects of PC in the practice of clinical psychology is the major reason why I decided not to go into teaching after finishing grad school. I presently work as a freelance academic editor. I've noticed that when a bunch of us get together, the discussion of other advantages of freelancing (saving on gas and other costs of commuting, not having to buy and maintain an expensive business wardrobe, etc.) usually moves on fairly quickly to what I suspect is THE core advantage for most of us: not having to deal with PC. I'm free to make comments about a writer's split infinitives, misplaced diacritics, and other high linguistic crimes and misdemeanors-- not to mention errors of fact-- without being accused of racism, insensitivity to someone's feelings, cultural imperialism, or some other PC buzzword. I'll never be hired as a teacher by the school that conferred my graduate degree (let alone get tenure), but at least I won't lose my soul [Mark 8:36]. In its exaltation of falsehood, PC is really a form of mental Errorism.

PSMc said...

I don't mean to be "politically incorrect" here, but concerning the comment "word verification" box above, how does a blind person know where to click to get the audio version?

donna said...

I really enjoy your posts and never miss them, but this one is the most brilliant and insightful of all. But so depressing! We've come so far in so few years. Everyone my daughter's age (she's 29) seems thoroughly indoctrinated. It's frightening. Just kind of sneaked up on us "oldies."

David Horowitz's work in academia is encouraging, and of course blogs like yours and others must have some effect. But I'm discouraged.

Paul Snively said...

If you haven't already, please be sure to read Eric Raymond's excellent essay Gramscian Damage. It's extremely revealing.

copithorne said...

In his book Transcending Madness, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche has a exposition of the traditional Tibetan spiritual psychology of the Deva Realm. In the Deva realm, people achieve mystical unity with the ego. This would be the fulfillment of a spiritual practice of using the ego's effort to "improve" the soul.

A few points about his exposition that are salient here.

1. In the Deva realm, people use spiritual practice to deepen their confusion. Their practice throws off chains of mystification, ropes of bondage, wrapping themselves, in the traditional metaphor, like a silkworm unto suffocation.

2. The experience of the Deva realm always degrades into anger.

3. The person in the Deva realm cannot hear the teachings. They are so deeply in the grip of their own karmic entrancement that there is no ability to take in any nourishment. However, later, as the experience degrades and gaps begin to open up, the teachings could serve as seeds that may ripen.

The prophylaxis against this condition in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition would be the Bodhisattva Vow. You vow to yield your own enlightenment until all sentient beings achieve enlightenment.

A wholesome prophylaxis against this condition in a theistic tradition would be devotional bahkti yoga. This would support a practice built on a foundation of service rather than a foundation of spiritual materialism.

Sri Aurobindo presented Bahkti yoga as the center of his recommended practice.

Gagdad Bob said...


Is that the same Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche who was the alcoholic womanizer?