Political correctness is a law
No to the moral cleansing of the language
Moral attitudes are a private matter in liberal democracies for good reason,thinks Alexander Grau
“Political Correctness”: In the ears of the enlightened citizen of western industrial nations, that sounds good and, above all, harmless. Because who wants to be incorrect, and politically incorrect at that? But what is actually politically correct? And: who determines that?
The fact that answering these simple questions is difficult is due to the strange linguistic composition of the expression "politically correct". Because correct, based on the Latin basic meaning, is everything that has been corrected, i.e. that which is free of errors, correct or - in a figurative sense - appropriate.
“Political” is a deliberately vague placeholder
But it is precisely about what is politically appropriate if you understand it to be a kind of civil treatment in public. And that's because of the banal attribute "political". The word here is a deliberately vague placeholder that is intended to hide the fact that it is not about appropriate action for the community. It's about tough ideology. Because “political” here means the twisting of the actual meaning of the word “moral”. According to his apologists, especially academic apologists, the politically correct is nothing other than the morally correct. And this morally correct should apply to the entire community and be enforced by means of social sanctions - language regulations, renaming, removal of works of art from public space. It's totalitarian. With the exception of very few actions - violations of the right to physical integrity, self-determination and property - moral attitudes are, for good reason, a private matter in liberal democracies. Worldview and religion are a matter for the individual. They only become a problem if they result in actions that do not fit the criminal code.
The representatives of the PC do not want to accept the right to free, unpleasant opinion
The greatest good in a liberal society is freedom of expression. As long as a criminal offense is not called for, the citizen in liberal states like Germany - with few restrictions and considerations - has the right to think and say what he wants. Even if that doesn't suit some.
It is precisely this right to free, unpleasant opinion that the representatives of political correctness do not want to accept. They are concerned with re-education by means of language and symbolic politics: everyday language is to be morally cleansed, old books searched for unpleasant formulations, street names, monuments, museum holdings etc. are to be adapted.
At its core, it's about a culture war, and it has little to do with morality, the protection of minorities or humanism. The ideologues of political correctness are concerned with the pursuit of a social revolutionary agenda. The beginning of the systematic movement towards “political correctness” is often dated to the 1980s in the USA. In my opinion, however, the ideological roots lie much earlier, in neo-Marxism of the 1920s: Since a revolution due to economic circumstances was not to be expected, the focus was on the conquest of cultural hegemony, i.e. the interpretative sovereignty in public opinion through a targeted language policy and the assumption of key positions in the culture and media business. The aim of this revolutionary strategy was to destroy civil society by discrediting its central institutions: family, university, cultural institutions.
In the late 1960s, this cultural revolutionary concept was picked up by the ideologues of the 1968 movement. The philosopher Herbert Marcuse, for example, explicitly recommended a “linguistic rebellion” and emphasized “that the realization of tolerance requires intolerance of the prevailing political practices, attitudes and opinions”. This strategy is legitimized by the pathologization of society. The average petty bourgeoisie, filled with secret resentment, is seen as a patient who needs to be “cured” through appropriate speech therapy. It's presumptuous, repulsive, and bizarre.
To be against political correctness does not mean to approve of discrimination
This impression is reinforced by the fact that this dispute bears unmistakable features of a class struggle from above: A small academic minority of well-off prosperous offspring presumes to re-educate the masses who are allegedly trapped in their stereotypes. One could dismiss that as presumptuousness of pampered affluent children. But the matter is not that harmless. Too many people who argue for the protection of minorities for a good reason, for example, turn themselves into willing henchmen on an aggressive agenda for restructuring Western societies. But to be against political correctness does not mean that discrimination is good. It means defending our freedom.
Alexander Grau has a doctorate in philosophy and works as a freelance culture and science journalist. He writes for Cicero, among others, and recently his book “Hypermoral. The new lust for outrage ”at Claudius Verlag Munich.
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