An I For An I

One of today's value systems is called "political correctness". People have reduced this name to an acronym: "PC".

An amazing thing about political correctness is that it is only indirectly about politics. Directly, PC is a set of speech guidelines for specific and general settings.

At the surface PC's appearance shut down the common use of jokes demeaning groups of people. But a priori to these guidelines PC is a categorization of reality. Like other value systems, it dictates which entities are to be referred to by which words.

PC itself flouts PC

Generally, PC applies when the subject is gays, or people with disabilities, or people who are not caucasian. But PCs strictest mandate is that these must not be grouped together! For example, PC commands that homosexuality must not be spoken of as a disability.

This incongruity was humorously revealed recently when TV news' Cynthia Izaguirre substituted 'gay' when the teleprompter said 'blind'.

they're trying to make a better world

PC advocates share a motive with the proselytizers of classic religions. As the former demand the term 'gay' be used instead of 'homosexual', the latter demand 'the 10 Commandments' be put in every schoolroom.

Of course, these are not identical approaches. We can safely say one approach is newer & more intellectualized and the other is older & hoarier.

writing down a value system

The rules of PC are not supposed to be written down. Today people's pre-conscious pretends this is because of PC's superficial fascist nature (no PCer wants to be caught coming across like ten-commandment type). But in reality this is done because of 1) the contradiction 2) breath taboos.

New Age interpretation

The West is becoming more and more a settler culture (and less of a warrior culture. It is also merging with nomadic culture). As this happens its 'breath-death wish' is weakening.

Also weakening is what Alan Watts referred to in 1966 as 'the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are':
“It is said that humanity has evolved one-sidedly, growing in technical power without any comparable growth in moral integrity, or, as some would prefer to say, without comparable progress in education and rational thinking. Yet the problem is more basic. The root of the matter is the way in which we feel and conceive ourselves as human beings, our sensation of being alive, of individual existence and identity.” [from]
The weakening of this taboo means knowledge of the contingency of the breath is reaching modern pre-conscious. The (in some ways) over-educated middle-class of the West has now sensed what Watts sensed. But they disagree with his advice
“We do not need a new religion or a new bible. We need a new experience--a new feeling of what it is to be 'I.'”
Instead these moderns invented a new value-system: Political correctness.

the current behaviour

In their relation to PC, Moderns behave one way or another
  • some never flout it
    (or feel guilty if they do by accident)
  • some flout it superficially
    (by making a joke demeaning one of the 'victim' groups, or a medical/political claim about one of the victim groups)
Each of these two groups pretends they are the free speakers, even as each of these two groups obeys different taboos. In other words: not everyone acquiesces to PC , but everyone acquiesces to its opacity.

added 2006/06/16:

The acclaimed-but-little-seen 2002 movie Far From Heaven represents a similar conflation (as PC itself does, as Cynthia Izaguirre did). In it the director -Todd Haynes- shows what it might have been like in the USA in 1957 for middle-class closeted gay men and their wives.

Haynes set the drama in Connecticut, and he has said this was partly to take advantage of the fall foliage. But for some reason Haynes included a sub-plot involving race-relations. This, even though in interviews it's clear he had done no work on what race-relations were there then (he makes it seem as if every white person in the state then was a committed racist).

Far From Heaven's twin themes do ring true. It's a good film. However, to me there is an echo in the movie not of reality but of the Western identity issues PC is partly designed to cover up. Westerners -trained to equate race prejudice with sexual-orientation prejudice (while simultaneously trained never to think about them together!) - have been largely ineffective in ending either.

If I haven't been clear: Both racism and prejudice against gays are wrong. And egregiously stupid. I just think there's a reason modern people who share with me the desire to end both have no idea why either prejudice exists. They think they know (they think these are taught behaviors) but they don't.

updated 2006/07/08


someone is being fooled [politics,rock music]

This is a topic about a week old, blogosphere-wise. But it will certainly linger for years. This because an unstoppable force is going up against an immovable object, and it's involved.

In one corner -in the red trunks - (ladies and gents) is
- the Washington, DC mindset
- Peak Oil blah blah blah
- racism, arrogance, you name it

in the other corner -in the blue trunks- is
- comedians
- ordinary homeowners with guns
- Rock 'n Roll

The first is unstoppable, and it's name is 'fascism'. But the second is immovable, it's name is 'the majority of the people in the USA'.

In my opinion, the NRO wears red trunks (and loves the way they look). They certainly have sensed the power of Rock 'n Roll. So they try to defeat it cleverly, by claiming ownership.

Speculating wildly, I suggest the NRO team has been reeling some lately, and the author of the linked article watched a concert off of a DVD to cheer himself up. Not just any concert, but the one after 9-11 with the firefighters in the audience (yes, it would be depraved to cheer yourself up by remembering a tragedy but that is my opinion of NRO).

talking Rock 'n Roll

Flash back to 10/20/2001, to MSG. "The Concert for NYC" was about giving to help those suddenly in need. The Who were one of the featured bands, and the group was in top form (almost universally considered one of the alltime greats, maybe the band hadn't been that good in years).

Their 4-song set culminated in Won't Get Fooled Again'. I'm suggesting the NRO man recently noticed this. Whatever, the point is that the closing song that night (a common Who closer) is the song the NRO guy chose as his greatest 'Conservative Rock Song of all time'.

I wondered if the performance itself proved that the group meant 'we won't get fooled by liberal softiness again'. That is the NRO opinion. So I pulled out my copy and watched it.

The video of that concert shows many firefighters in the audience. During their performance shown behind them was a slide show including images of the WTC and the Statue of Liberty.

Just before the final song Townshend cups his hands and says 'We are honored to be here'. When Daltry starts singing the first lines ("We'll be fighting in the streets...)" he does not look happy (but maybe it's just jet lag). When he gets to the first ideology reference he sings those lines easily
"And the party on the left Is now the party on the right"

significantly Daltry does not sing the famous final lines
"Meet the new boss - Same as the old boss"

It seems clear the band made the decision out of tact, not sing that line. Most time I am sure they do. From this performance one can get the impression that its a conservative song.

If I am right that this was the kernel performance, then leave it to the NRO to turn tact into class war.

I imagine this NRO guy seeing this concert and not noticing the missing lines. I imagine him thinking 'wow -Rock and roll really does belong to us and not to those nasty smelly liberals'.

Townshend power chords can bend many a mind.

So he submits the idea to his editor... and is told to make it a long list. Which he fills up, often highly superficially. But these guys don't care because -they think- they've got We Wont Get Fooled Again.

Continuing to speculate wildly, I imagine someone mentioned to this guy that the last two lines might mean it isn't a conservative song after all, especially since Pete Townshend says it isn't. But Miller has done all that work, so he throws in some rhetoric, and the piece is published.


The long battle between fascists and the American people can be described by more than one metaphor. Imagine an erupting volcano on a glacier. It's sort of like that. Think of the entrails of the hot magma, and the hissing sound you would hear as it reaches the long-dormant water. That is what the linked article is - it's hissing.

This post is more political than usual, but popular music is part of the culture so I figure it belonged. Having an indirect effect and all.

I just get offended by self-serving analysis.

for more political viewpoint try

rewritten 2007-02-21