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View Diary: Some thoughts on PC (311 comments)

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  •  wellll.... (4.00)

    The more or less original usage of "politically correct" comes out of the Comintern and fringy Communist Parties worldwise of the 1930s.  Where there was a tight speech code and speech conformity and coercion involved.  It got into the New Left of the late Sixties and early Seventies as a phrase and a more vague concept.

    Where I went to college in the Eighties, the Left activisty sorts that fashioned themselves to be elitist and sort of an underground referred to each others' occasional ironic, and at times genuine, internal violations of their political line (like misogyny) in ways such as "Dude, that's not Pee Cee."

    The idea that the likes of Dinesh D'Souza are referring to the defensible, progressive movements and their lingo is sort of to miss the point.  D'Souza and the like were the hounds put on the trail of the Sixties and Seventies New Left and their ACP predecessors...and if they did some damage to the imitations of that, so much the better in their view.  The pain they inflicted was not because the people they attacked were liberal or progressive; the reason the "PC" charge works/worked is because most adherents of this variety of the Left are adherents of what are now ideas and political viewpoints and pursuit of them in ways old enough to be conservative in their own right.

    The other thing the "PC" charge attacks is that a lot of what goes/went on in the Left over the past 30-40 years is talk and certain forms of internal elitism.

    So the "PC" charge by Rightist pundits does get at definite defects of varieties of Left activists.  But at bottom the charge points out that these people have had internalized, residual, conservatism to mar their efforts.

    And you are right, the Right and mainstream have had to adhere to their own increasingly stringent speech code beginning in the early Nineties.  The political correlate is popular support for the social liberal viewpoint getting to unsuppressable levels and threatening to the conservative majority- about 40%.  The Thomas hearings really told the reactionaries that they could not defer an energetic countereffort any longer.  Bush Sr. wouldn't have part in that, the Clintons made them absolutely desperate, and we got the hell that was 1995 and the second act of it, 1998/99.  The terms of that fight for the rest of us in public life were the winning of tolerance for the social liberal p.o.v.  We won insuppressability but not real acceptance.

    The game has changed since.  The reactionary Republicans were defeated.  But the moderate Democrats that defeated them were in turn defeated by hardline conservative Republicanism in 2000, '01, and '02.  What that did to (and for) us was to suck all the tolerance, which was just a halfway house in the process of social change, out of the public arena.  We call it "polarization"- and it amounts to people being forced from mere support of (other peoples' greater) social liberalism to becoming real and genuine adherents, to fully convincement of our side and ourselves.  Isn't that what has been going on on this website for the past few years...residual conservatisms being exposed and slowly being given up, and liberal positions being fully embraced?

    And now hardline conservative Republicanism is failing, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is in line to pick up when and where it falls.  The effect of that is a re-moderating of a lot of conservatives as they give up things they couldn't actually believe for long.  Renewed tolerance is being asked of the liberal side by the near-defectors, while conservative hardliners try desperately to minimize defections by undermining the tolerance and moderation being permitted and trying to shout down or sabotage liberals' articulation of their positions now that moderates are willing to listen to them.  Which makes for new waves and formulations of furore in the workplace and public square and family get-togethers.

    So things have moved beyond the issue of "PC"- and indeed, the conservatives' kind is fragmenting too, to the extent that they violate it themselves more frequently as their desperation grows and they misenforce it out of confusion and malice.

    As I see it.  But the slip toward the liberal seems immistakable, all these tests being imposed on it have been and remain brutal until it delivers its proofs.  And as the diary writer says, the issue is not really words anymore, outside of conservative-controlled environments like the workplace where speech codes are presently in convulsions.  It's increasingly a matter of actions and genuine beliefs acted upon, and that is how it should be.

    Renewal, not mere Reform.

    by killjoy on Wed Jun 01, 2005 at 03:20:38 PM PDT

    •  PC (none)
      Where I went to college in the Eighties, the Left activisty sorts that fashioned themselves to be elitist and sort of an underground referred to each others' occasional ironic, and at times genuine, internal violations of their political line (like misogyny) in ways such as "Dude, that's not Pee Cee."

      In my college in the early '80s (I graduated in '84), we never used the terms "PC" or "political correctness".  Of course, the attitude was there: we chastised each other for perceived transgressions of accepted political norms (e.g., I was criticized for using the word "girl" instead of "woman" to describe someone).  But I didn't start hearing "PC" until the late '80s, at least.  My impression was that it was a mocking term used exclusively by the Right.

      BTW, although they pissed me off at the time, such schoolmarmish corrections by the hypersensitive left did in fact have a beneficial effect and made me think more carefully about my language, my attitudes, and my actions.  "Schoolmarms" can teach you a lot of valuable stuff.  Something we should all bear in mind.

      *Springsteen for President*

      by hrh on Wed Jun 01, 2005 at 04:34:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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