Now we come to the heart of the matter, the psychodynamic processes that interfere with the ability to adequately recognize/perceive reality.
One of the most rewarding aspects of this blog has been the comments that others leave to advance the conversation. With thanks to Robert Godwin, who left the following comment after Part V of this series:
It's very easy to dismiss leftist thought as emotional, because it is, but it is also based on a core of ideas about reality that are just plain wrong and dysfunctional, especially when their consequences are drawn out. For example, the politically correct assault on the existence of objective truth seems initially liberating, as we are freed from the dictates of arbitrary authority. However, the whole idea of individual pursuit of truth was a liberal project, since truth was not accepted a priori but was subject to criticism and logical or empirical demonstration. But with deconstruction, the entire concept of truth is undermined, so there is no way to arbitrate between competing notions if reality. Therefore, whoever has the power may enforce their version of reality, which is what political correctness is all about.
Neo-neocon has a wonderful post today, Why Bloggers Love Orwell. Like so many of us who first met Orwell in middle school, with Animal Farm and 1984, she was deeply affected by her first exposure to Orwell's thinkng. She comments on his impact and power:
1984 seemed to weave a spell over me--so much that, for a week or so, it seemed more real than what was going on around me, and far more frightening. Winston Smith's travails seemed so terrifying and, in the end, so utterly devoid of hope, that it took me a while to come back again to my own world.
The most memorable part of the book to me, aside from Room 101 and the rats, was the section (an Appendix, I believe) about Newspeak. That words could be twisted into their opposites and used as propaganda ploys was a new thought to me at the time, but it made intuitive sense.
Neo-neocon goes on to describe an article from 1998 by Timothy Garton Ash about some of Orwell's early experiences with Communism and the destruction (deconstruction) of reality that seemed to be required by Communism. The entire post is well worth reading for its illuminating look at early, murderous Political Correctness.
Let me digress here to describe a not atypical (composite and disguised) segment of a therapeutic Psychoanalysis:
Mr. A was a man in his mid-30's at the time he sought treatment. Part of what brought the man into treatment was the most recent in a series of work disasters. In every job he had had, Mr. A, who was quite intelligent and talented in his field, would eventually come into conflict with his boss and either quit or be fired. He came into treatment after noting the repetition and wondered if he were contributing anything to the problem. Mr. A described his family constellation and his demanding, belittling father, who never missed an opportunity to humiliate his son, and occasionally followed the verbal attacks with overt physical abuse. The first time I mentioned that his father's behavior was abusive, it was a revelation. He had never allowed himself to recognize that his father was taking out his own frustrations on his son, who was, during childhood, an innocent victim. For the first time he had the language to describe part of his experience growing up with his father. From there he was able to take responsibility for, occasionally, provoking his father (which children often do in order to feel that they have some control over the abuse, if only by determining the timing.) It took a long time and a lot of work in the transference relationship with me for him to recognize that he was unconsciously acting in ways that would anger his bosses; once they reacted (often without apparently recognizing that they were provoked) he would feel aggrieved, victimized, and could then strike back in a justified way. He would gain his revenge by sabotaging projects he was working on, which, obviously, ultimately ended up costing him. Mr. A experienced his father as a tyrannical and capricious authority who could never be openly confronted. He came to recognize that he actively, but unconsciously, tried to turn me into an abusive father figure. He would attack me unmercifully for every small error I made (while protecting me from his rage when I made more significant errors). Poor phrasing of an interpretation on my part lead to acidic insults of my intellect and ability. He came to realize that he expected me to be a tyrant just like his father, and his experience and perception of me were so constrained by his expectations that that was all he could see. If I behaved in a benign fashion, it had to be discounted and denied. He literally could not see me as anything but an evil, abusive man. Working this through allowed him to stop undermining himself in his work and lead to a very satisfactory conclusion.
What was required for him to more accurately assess reality and react more closely attuned to reality than to his own unconscious needs were several steps:
1. He had to gain a clearer picture of his own past; this required finding new language to describe his experiences.
2. He had to recognize his distorted views of his relationship with me. His insistence that I was an abusive tyrant clashed with his recognition of me as a benign figure who was there to help him.
3. He then needed to see that he brought the expectation of tyrannical authority (transference) to every situation in which he dealt with an authority figure.
4. Finally, he needed to be able to take responsibility for his own contribution to his failures and begin to change his manner of interacting with other people.
And this brings us from the particular to the general. Political Correctness requires that those men who have been successful in our culture be seen as "oppressive white men". Any facts that do not fit into the basic structure of the model have to be rejected. Better yet, incorrect thoughts are simply ignored or dismissed. By using the language of deconstruction, the PC movement insists that reality is merely a construct (this is clearly analogous to transference) and that those in power create the construct and impose it on others. This is the equivalent of Mr. A's father insisting, while he hit him, that it was all for his own good. Mr. A, just like a society in thrall to Political Correctness could either believe his own experience or accept the authority (who he depended on) and deny his own perceptions. The only way to avoid constant internal tension would be to stop seeing those things that do not fit the acceptable model. Mr. A could not see that his bosses were not tyrants. For a very long time he could not see that I was not a tyrant. Political Correctness has stunted our social conversation about race, abortion, sexuality, and the dangers we face in an often hostile world. As long as we cannot allow ourselves to see, we have no chance to change dysfunctional structures.
In reality, there are probably fairly few PC "true believers." I suspect there are those who insist that all white men are by definition evil oppressors and the source of all that is evil in the world, but more commonly, those whose livelihoods depend on the Politically Correct simply train themselves not to see whatever doesn't fit, just as the New York Times reporter, Walter Duranty, could win a Pulitzer for not noticing the millions who were slaughtered by Stalin. To see the true reality and report on it would have been the end of Duranty's career. Instead, he lied to his public and to himself, and was rewarded with riches and prizes.
Increasingly, the tide is shifting. Reality is asserting itself, partly with the help of bloggers, biases and all. Unfortunately, those who depend on Political Correctness still have the ability, just like the KGB, to enforce their will on their subjects. Their power is waning but they still hold sway in the MSM, significant parts of the Democratic Party, and Academia. As their power shrinks, their rage grows. They can not tolerate dissent because once they allow their world view to be questioned, their power must crumble. In fact, as Robert Godwin aptly put it:
Truth is arbitrary, but you better believe my version, or be branded a bigot, or a homophobe, or a white male oppressor! One more reason why contemporary liberalism is deeply illiberal. Their ideas cannot be argued on the merits, so they are enforced by the illegitimate authority of political correctness.