Political Correctness Gone Mad
Everyone knows what the term “political correctness” refers to, and if they don’t they know where google is. But what I didn’t know, until recently, was the origins of the term.
You see, it originated among Communists as a term for the Stalinist party line – politicians would stick to the politically “correct” position provided by the Party, and were criticised for it by their more freethinking bretheren:
It was used by Socialists against Communists, and was meant to separate out Socialists who believed in equalitarian moral ideas from dogmatic Communists who would advocate and defend party positions regardless of their moral substance.
The term was picked up by, y’know, liberal types, feminists and such, sometime around the seventies, and acquired roughly it’s modern meaning. So far, so much boring minutiae that I didn’t know, as such, but it fitted what I already knew, right? Here’s the thing, though: why exactly were they using a disparaging term that basically meant “censorship” for their own beliefs?
Because they were being self-depreciating, that’s why. It was originally a joking warning against their own cultishness! Every subculture has these. But then – dun dun dun! – in the late eighties/early nineties, conservatives picked up on it. They started asserting – mistakenly? – that this was a serious term used by liberals, and they were here to warn you that (surprise surprise) it was basically censorship.
Of course, at this point, liberals suddenly became very defensive. What they were doing, after all, wasn’t a bad thing (although it did have risks, as the “political correctness” joke had warned.) So they started arguing that no, political correctness was a good thing, and, well, arguments are soldiers, and self-depreciating warnings about censoring people weren’t exactly supporting the troops. They had to go.
And that’s the story of how a joke turned into reality, and self-awareness was used as ready-made propaganda. Sweet dreams, kids.
(No, there’s no real point to this post, it just interests me how I – and most people, including liberals of all stripes – had it completely backwards.)