My recent essay entitled “Swans of Color” immediately found a receptive readership. The censorious, self-righteous political correctness driving the anti-Cultural wave that is sweeping through Europe and the United States is getting on the nerves of a great many sensible folks of all political stripes, though, most particularly, it rankles those having conservative political views. Among the conservatives, we also find the greatest number of anti-Vaxxers, a position very much in the news these days as we pass through the Fourth Wave of Covid.
I will explore what these seemingly very different positions have in common, what is respectable therein and what is destructive. Let me assert here at the outset that I deplore the anti-Vaxxers for being excessively egoistical, anti-social and dangerous for the survival of our health infrastructure.
At the same time, I expand below my remarks on political correctness which only scratched the surface in my Swan essay and did not get far beyond my shock over the havoc now being encouraged by those presently in power on two continents in the name of “inclusiveness.”
What the promoters of political correctness on the Left and the anti-Vaxxers on the Right have in common is hunger for power, either to stay in power or to seize power depending only on where one is at any given moment. In this sense they align with all major social movements of our time. Activists over Climate Change or Black Lives Matter, just like anti-Migrant Populists, are only partly defenders of ideas; they are ultimately presenting positions on who holds Power in society. The ideas are levers for mobilizing voters.
Secondly, the anti-Vaxxers and the would-be enforcers of current political correctness have in common an identification of The State as the underlying subject of their debate. The anti-Vaxxers largely describe themselves as defenders of their bodies against restrictions and mask wearing or vaccination mandates which are impositions of an absolutist State. They are defenders of freedom of choice and freedom of expression. Of course, they ignore the old rule that one is free to do as one pleases until one infringes the rights of others, which is the case at hand when attacking measures taken or proposed to manage the Covid crisis by saving lives and protecting the economy which feeds us all.
With respect to our enforcers of political correctness, they tend to see The State as an unqualified force for good. Yet, the net effect of their removing books from libraries, cancelling ballet performances in the name of “European values” is to remove all gems of our cultural heritage, the rocks on which our civilization stands. It is one more manifestation of the attempt to deprive us of our past, both the good and the bad, that we saw a year ago following the onset of the BLM movement whereby statues to colonialists, slave-owners and philanthropists of the past were demonstratively torn down before enthralled crowds and jubilant television journalists on two continents and on one island nation just off the coast of Europe. All of these various manifestations of indignation over deemed violation of today’s latest standards of “inclusiveness” have one convenient outcome: the present day population is left without any orientation other than what our current political leaders tell us to believe. This is a recipe for state absolutism. It destroys the underpinnings of all democracy, namely pluralism, as we are left with just one world view, that of today’s powers that be. The obvious fact that today’s “values” will be no more durable than those of the past troubles none of our leaders, whose real objective is to enjoy the fruits of power here and now at our expense.
Who are the leaders I have in mind? First and foremost they are present in Brussels in the European Institutions. The latest demonstration of what these folks are up to has come to public attention in the past week: the draft recommendations on acceptable language in all EU communications coming down from the Commission. Here we see precisely the pandering to LGBTQ, to illegal and legal immigrant minorities, to rabid feminists who, it is assumed, will take pleasure and comfort from seeing off expressions such as “Ladies and Gentlemen” from public speakers and who want to see mention of Christian holidays like “Christmas” systematically removed from all public pronouncements. Happily , Italian statesmen summoned the courage to veto this last-named assault on Europe’s cultural heritage by our secularists in power.
Nonetheless, the utter mindlessness of today’s political correctness is becoming law here in the Kingdom of Belgium. The newspapers of this week inform us that henceforth Belgian national ID cards will no longer carry the binary designation of sex of the bearer. Sex will no longer be mentioned at all! Bravo, ye practitioners of the Brave New World….
Nothing personal in all this, to be sure. It is just excessive indulgence in what politics was, is and will forever be: Power and who enjoys it.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2021