The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

Retreat of Reason

Posted by rantingkraut on June 15, 2006

Anthony Browne at Civitas has written a short but worthwhile book on political correctness: "The Retreat of Reason". It is worthwhile not least because Browne doesn't simply use 'PC' as shorthand for 'left wing' or otherwise for anything he doesn't like but aims for genuine comprehension of the phenomenon and its evolution. There are some sample chapters on the Civitas website, and I can't resist adding another quote:

"Those most zealously opposed to PC tend to be those who were once infected by it and then broke free. Like Winston Smith in George Orwell's 1984, the doubts often start slowly at first, with people realising the little lies and distortions. First they justify them as white lies, excusing them as being for the greater good. But as they start thinking about the lies, they start realising how prolific they are, and start wondering about the truth they conceal. Eventually, they become convinced that you cannot reach the truth through telling lies, and that, as the Bible said-in a rather different context-'the truth shall make you free'.

The pieces fall into place, and a new picture of the world-view emerges. The PC way of thinking is replaced with a new way of thinking-or rather an old one-that puts the emphasis on factual correctness rather than political correctness, and on reason rather than emotion. They are, in the classic definition of neo-conservatives, 'liberals mugged by reality', but often still liberal in the classical sense.

Those who journey from political correctness to truth often risk public disapprobation, but it is notable that most never lose their tolerance or humanity, and retain their fundamental values. They may question the politics of race, but not that racism is bad; they may question campaigns about women's pay, but not that women and men deserve equality of treatment; they may realise that western civilisation-with its extraordinary ability to create wealth and culture while promoting freedom, equality and democracy- is, by almost all measures, the best civilisation that humanity has yet created, but that doesn't make them Islamophobes."

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