The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

Conservative Political Correctness

Like many political terms, “political correctness” is a term so vague it is almost meaningless. There is no objective way to measure whether something is PC or not, so anyone can gleefully accuse any criticism of racism as politically correct regardless of the true level of racism criticized.

What is “political correctness”? It is most often used to denigrate what is believed to be “liberal” prissiness against certain language or depictions—most commonly those accused as being prejudice by the liberal, but not believed to be prejudice by conservatives. This is most common for when traditions are criticized. For instance, the manufactured “War on Christmas,” which Fox News apparently still trots out every December despite the obvious melodramatic goofiness of its title, is the complaint that liberal’s imaginary insistence on holiday celebration that does not prefer a certain religion mars the US’s traditional preference for Christian culture.

This seems arbitrarily specific. Why should prissiness only be bad when fighting tradition, and not when defending tradition? Certainly conservative think tanks’ (because I don’t believe average conservatives could care less about this tripe, either) obsession with the “War on Christmas” is just as triflingly whiny as the liberals’ purported insistence on cultural agnosticism. Should we not be as annoyed at them for wasting our time with such mindless pap as we are at the liberals for supposedly whining about Jews’ feelings getting hurt when Chanukah is ignored?

Evidence of conservative bitchiness in regards to culture offending their precious traditions abounds. The conservative whining against religiously incorrect works, such as that Satanic rock ‘n roll and Dungeons and Dragons—often made by Christians, anyway, such as the latter—is, of course, well established. But even nonfundie conservatives like to whine. Businesses bristle whenever their precious little laissez-faire superstitions are mocked. Hell, Fox News devoted numerous hours to divulging the secret anticapitalism within a Sesame Street special because it dared to argue that businesses that commit antisocial actions just for money is bad—a moral already well-established within our culture, from Dickens to It’s a Wonderful World.

Indeed, the desperate search for the mythical “liberal bias” in the media is akin the paranoid Marxists who find the maintenance of reactionary class distinction within every work. Already we have the infamous Conservapedia project wherein Schafly finally gets around to purging that liberal bias that has somehow snuck within the Bible, laughably breaking a major Bible law himself (in fairness, Christian fundamentalists ignoring their own rules is utterly shocking).

This discrepancy can easily be explained by examining another common thread of conservative ideology: Their hatred of “moral relativism.” Now, when they complain about “moral relativism,” they do not mean we should base our morals on objective science rather than cultural superstitions; conservative Christians have no problem denigrating atheists for being “arrogant” for making fun of their beliefs while, at the same breath, criticizing Muslims—and atheism, too, actually—in the same fashion. (Liberal Christians usually do, too; but they actually support secularization, so they are still consistent.) What conservatives really mean by “moral relativism” is that liberals dare not respect their superstitious traditions—Christianity, American superiority, and laissez-faire—unconditionally.

This is why conservatives rely on labeling as a form of argument against liberals. To call them anti-American, socialist, or communist should itself be enough of an argument; there is apparently no need to actually explain why being these things should be bad or to even have an objective definition for what these terms mean. It all means the same: Liberals are evil because they are not conservative. Q.E.D.

There is actually a logical reason why conservatives act this way, in every country in the world: In every country traditions are treated as the default good[1]. Christianity is good because it is the default in America—it is part of its culture—in the same way that Islam is good in middle eastern countries because it is the default; Laissez-faire is good because it is the default economy. Ideas that contradict these values are treated as blasphemous.

Conservatives love to use the term “common sense” to describe their beliefs. This is apt; when your beliefs are based on the default, when they are so closely embedded within the culture that one cannot be raised within the culture without being infected with them to the point of propaganda, it is easy for them to appear to be common sense. Laissez-faire appears obvious when one is raised being constantly fed pro-laissez-faire arguments and frameworks in the same way that those in the Soviet Union knew that it was obvious that their economic problems were caused by western imperialism.

Because what is usually known as “leftism”, by its nature, goes against these traditions it is much harder to defend, even if logically superior. When one is raised within the dichotomy of “free” economy vs. “command” economy—terms that even the pretend science, economics, depressingly uses—it is difficult to explain socialist ideology when it completely rejects such a dichotomy. In this context socialists look positively insane: Why would they want an economy dominated by a bureaucratic state?

Americans cannot possibly be pro-laissez-faire for the simple reason that the majority of Americans do not truly know what its alternatives are. Those who have never read socialist texts cannot be taken seriously when they argue against socialism—and yet that is precisely what most Americans do. We hear conservative pundits or politicians make the most ridiculous remarks against socialism and few even question whether one should accept the ideological definition of people obviously biased against said ideology. After all, when the pro-laissez-faire rich tell us socialism is bad, they must be telling the truth; why would they lie about something when lying would benefit them?

This dishonesty has the added defect of making some ideas seem positively crazy. This may explain why anarchism is pretty much invisible—the modern movement, as well as its historical elements. How can one explain those who oppose both government and capitalism without giving up the myth of “antigovernment” capitalism? Of course, when they are portrayed they must be done so with the same honesty as socialism: By portraying it as exactly the opposite of what it really is. Thus, anarchists are depicted as bomb-throwing totalitarians, or the term (as well as “libertarianism”) is snatched and applied to laissez-faire movements, in contradiction to history. Thus why many Americans watch Bill O’Reilly jokingly call himself an anarchist on The Daily Show and not notice the obvious overreaching irony: That conservatives actually want you to believe that they’re the ones who are antigovernment.

As long as Americans hide away from Proudhon and Dawkins because they’re afraid of having their delicate traditions offended they will never be able to understand politics accurately. They will not even have true opinions at all, willingly subjecting their freedom of opinion to the dominant ideology unconditionally. For such a thing to occur in a country that prides itself on freedom of thought is a much direr form of political correctness than non-Christians hurting Christian fundamentalists’ narcissistic need for special privileges.

[1] “Marxist” countries such as the former Soviet Union and Cuba are exceptions. At the very least, they are not traditional superstitions, but a kind modern superstitions enforced in the same way as the conservative kind.

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Posted in Politics