Saturday, May 28, 2016

What Does It Mean to Say "I Do Not Have to Be Politically Correct?" It Means "I Have No Duty to Care for the Harmed"

I have been puzzling over what people who object to "political correctness" are objecting to.  Donald Trump says he "doesn't have time" to be politically correct.  This seems to be the trait that his supporters most admire.

Jonathan Haidt's research on liberals and conservatives found that the moral foundation that most resonates with liberals is caring for those who have been harmed.  Liberals feel a special duty to  those who have been harmed by powers and privileges that liberals themselves have benefited from.  This, I believe, is the heart of what it means to be politically correct.

So what is it that Mr. Trump and his followers get out of rejecting political correctness?  They reject any ethical duty to care for the harmed.

They reach this conclusion by two routes.

The first is to deny that anyone has been harmed.  If everyone is an individual who can succeed by his or her own efforts, then whatever condition people find themselves in is just.  They deny that there are structures of power or privilege which benefit some groups and harm others.

The second is to claim that they, the privileged, have also been harmed - especially due to "reverse discrimination" by liberals trying to help those previously harmed by power and privilege.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Best Way to Fight the Demagogues? Know, and Say, The World is Getting Better

What makes reactionaries, reactionaries is that they view all change as decline.  It is not surprising that they are doomsayers - that is their slogan and recruiting strategy.

But it is a contradiction when progressive don't believe in progress.  They should be the most devoted to seeing hope in change.

In this moment it is left to centrists to see that, in a thousand important ways, the world is getting better.

As Greg Easterbrook said in a recent well-named piece, "When Did Optimism Become Uncool?", the problem is that "the lack of optimism in contemporary liberal and centrist thinking opens the door to Trump-style demagogy."