Posts Tagged ‘PC’

We’ve all heard the cringe-inducing jargon: white privilege, white skin privilege, woke (self-congratulatory term of the day), phallocracy (yes, a real PC term), differently abled, safe space, triggered, Latinx (obviously better than o/a), exceptional (retarded), and the granddaddy of all this awkwardness, “people of,” and  so on.

First: Who the hell came up with these terms? Second: Who the hell uses them? Third: Why? Fourth: What on earth purpose does this serve? Fifth: Who benefits?

1) Well, no one really knows. A decent guess is that well-off, guilt-ridden white PC academics in Ivy League or other $40,000-a-year-tuition universities, and possibly members of authoritarian marxist political parties, came up with this crap;

2) The just-mentioned white academics and holier-than-thou left political activists who don’t give a shit about alienating everyday people — activists (at least in word) who want to signal their virtue, people who have never lived in a ghetto or barrio and are separated by an income gap from those of us stuck here;

3) The surface reason is that they want to “educate” people about “privilege.” A secondary reason is that they don’t understand what four decades ago Audre Lourde called the “hierarchy of oppression,” and don’t give a shit about organizing the unorganized and building solidarity across racial and gender lines.

What better way to appeal to (white and especially male) people barely making the rent, without health insurance, and in fear of job loss than to tell them they’re “privileged,” and (unspoken) should be ashamed of it and themselves? Why on earth wouldn’t they rally to your cause? Why on earth talk to people about the actual hierarchy of oppression and their place in it, when you can use insulting, guilt-inducing terms to gloss over all the many and important gradations, paint the less oppressed as “privileged,” and pat yourselves on the back for how enlightened you are?

4) As mentioned above, the purpose of using such terms is virtue-signalling: letting the world know that you’re “woke.” Not remotely making the world a better place.

5) The only people this serves are right-wing theofascists, such as Trump, who want to paint a grotesque image of those opposed to them as holier-than-thou, out-of-touch elitists. Referring to poor and working class people who aren’t as oppressed as others as “privileged,” rather than “less oppressed,” is both grotesque and insulting. It’s hard to imagine a more effective divide-and-conquer strategy.

Referring accurately to all of the oppressed as oppressed leads to solidarity. On the other, referring to the less oppressed as “privileged” is not only inaccurate, it leads to warfare within the poor and working classes. Divide and conquer.

Condescending, reductionistic PC terminology plays into Trump’s and the other ruling-class theofascists’ hands.

How utterly disgusting.

One of the most depressing aspects of what passes for modern political discourse is the tendency on both the left and right to engage in collective guilt tripping. You hear this crap constantly: it’s all the fault of the boomers, men, millennials, women, feminists, blacks, whites, godless atheists (a bit redundant there, eh?), immigrants, Muslims, latinos, etc., etc., etc. ad nauseam. (Perhaps even more depressing is the guilt and self-loathing of white liberals who buy into this shit.)

There are several problems with the overly broad assignment of guilt (for damn near anything and everything you can think of). The first is that it’s lazy. It’s a ridiculously easy “analysis.”

The second is that it allows the demonizer to feel superior to the broad class of demonized (whites, blacks, latinos, men, “feminazis,” gay people, Jewish folks, whoever) simply because the demonizer is not a member of the demonized per se evil class. (Never mind what s/he is doing with their own life, never mind that they’re often a pathetic piece of human waste — they’re not a member of the cursed class, so they’re automatically virtuous; at present, this form of mental sickness is most pronounced in the outbreak of white supremacism and its related misogyny/homophobia.)

The third is that collective guilt lets those guilty of real evil off the hook. For instance, if you assign all Germans (including those not even born yet when it occurred) guilt for the Holocaust, it lessens if not eliminates the individual guilt of the murderers. This equal-opportunity guilt/blame places those who fought against and fled the Nazis on the same moral footing as those who perpetrated the horrors. But, gosh, isn’t it convenient to assign the guilt simply to “the Germans”? So easy. (The same of course applies to whites as regards the treatment of black people and Native Americans, and men vis a vis the suppression of women: the one-size-fits-all blame-game lets those guilty of real evil off the hook.)

The fourth is that it sets people against each other. As an example, I’ve spent my entire adult life working to eliminate racism, xenophobia, economic exploitation, religious authoritarianism, misogyny, homophobia — all the forms of coercive domination/submission — and I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to feel guilty for being a straight white male (things over which I have no control). While I share a lot of the goals of the blame-culture PC left, they’ve made themselves into my — and humanity’s — enemies, unwitting dupes of the powers-that-be in their divide-and-conquer game, in their blaming of me and countless others for things utterly beyond our control.

If we’re ever going to make real progress, we can’t do it by eating each other alive. Improvements in such things as wealth and income distribution must benefit damn near everyone; if for only certain classes of people, that’ll further divide us.

The fifth, and perhaps most major, problem is that the simplistic assignment of guilt based on race, gender, ethnicity, etc., is that it short circuits critical analysis. There are complicated reasons for almost every major problem. Assigning guilt to classes of people allows those (often unwittingly) serving the powers-that-be to avoid looking at the underlying societal/economic mechanisms that produce the various horrors (mass unemployment, environmental despoliation, restriction of reproductive rights, climate catastrophe, etc.). In other words, mass guilt provides convenient scapegoats. If you don’t look at the underlying mechanisms, and then do something to fix or replace them, you’ll never get anywhere: you’ll just arrive at an endless miasma of guilt, blame, and hate while those on top stay on top.

The sixth and most obvious problem is that assignment of collective guilt leads to atrocities. Such things as the Holocaust (for imaginary offenses), internment of Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps (again, for imaginary offenses), the Israeli government’s bulldozing of the homes of thousands of suspected Palestinian militants (thus punishing their entire families), and the caging of immigrant children (yet again for imaginary offenses).

The next time you hear someone say it’s all the fault of the Jews, the whites, immigrants, men, blacks, women, gays, Muslims, etc., etc., please realize that that person is a bullshit artist. Someone trying to distract you with scapegoats. Someone who wants to let those actually guilty off the hook. Someone who doesn’t want you to look at the underlying problems. Someone who’s however unwittingly a servant of the powers that be.

(I normally don’t have much good to say about Barack Obama — the Great Disappointment, who saved the banks but abandoned the people who elected him — but he really hit the nail on the head with the following comment about “woke,” PC culture.)

“If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because ‘Man did you see how woke I was? . . .'”

The British analytical group, More in Common (“founded in memory of [British MP] Jo Cox [murdered by a neo-Nazi]”), reports that the vast majority of Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture.

The study has design problems, such as considering no political positions to the left of “progressive activists,” and defining “PC culture” only in terms of language. (Obviously, it goes far beyond this.)

Still, the study has some value. Among other things, it reveals that a full 80% of Americans (including 75% of Afro-Americans and 88% of Native Americans) “dislike” PC language and consider it a problem. As well, the single group most likely to view PC jargon favorably — though only a third do so — is “progressive activists,” 8% of the total population, who are overwhelmingly white, earn over $100K per year, and are most likely to hold advanced degrees.

In other words, “the liberal elite,” those most likely to control “progressive” media outlets (such as, to fairly single them out, Alternet), and to indulge in the use of PC terminology.

And PC terminology is to all appearances not intended to unite the oppressed against the common ultra-rich enemy, but to give its users a warm feeling of self-congratulation on being enlightened, morally superior, above the rest of us. It’s in-group, self-identifying, and self-congratulatory jargon.

Think about it for a moment. How many people do you know who use terms like “woke,” “people of color,” “white privilege,” “privileged”? I’ve lived for nearly 30 years in a barrio where maybe 25% of the people are white, and I have never heard any of my Mexican or black neighbors, or my poor white neighbors, use these or similar terms. Never. Over damn near 30 years. Never.

“Progressive activists” are not speaking the language of the people. They may want to shame people into using their jargon, but they are not speaking the language of the people.

It’s time for the “progressive” left to stop patting themselves on the back. It’s time for them to stop using jargon that alienates people. (Try telling someone who’s making minimum wage, spending 50% of their income on rent, has no health insurance, and can’t come up with $500 cash to cover an emergency, that they’re “privileged” because of the color of their skin — see how far that gets you; see how far that goes in building coalitions to build solidarity, to improve life for all.)

The PC left is a curse, navel-gazers intent on proving to themselves how virtuous they are in comparison to us unenlightened plebes, especially through use of their in-group jargon. They’re an ongoing disaster.

If the left is ever to make real progress in this country, to make concrete policies to benefit all, it won’t be through using bizarre jargon that plays into the hands of Trump’s “very fine people.” It’ll be through talking about economic policies that benefit all of us.

PRIVILEGED, adj. As defined by the politically correct, the fortunate state of being mistreated—but not as badly as others. To illustrate this, let’s consider two prisoners in open-topped cells, one of whom is pissed upon by guards, the other of whom is shit upon by guards. According to PC ideologues, the prisoner who is merely pissed upon is “privileged” in comparison to the one who is shit upon.

According to these same ideologues, all prisoners should “struggle” to ensure that the “oppressed” shit-upon come to share the exalted status of the “privileged” pissed-upon, rather than “struggle” to end incarceration. In fairness, some PC ideologues would object that they do want to end incarceration—they just want to ensure that all are pissed upon first.

* * *

–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover

“A critical but overlooked aspect of the human dimensions of glaciers and global change research is the relationship between gender and glaciers. While there has been relatively little research on gender and global environmental change in general (Moosa and Tuana, 2014; Arora-Jonsson, 2011), there is even less from a feminist perspective that focuses on gender (understood here not as a male/female binary, but as a range of personal and social possibilities) and also on power, justice, inequality, and knowledge production in the context of ice, glacier change, and glaciology [citations].”
(This gem is from the second page. This paper is not, I repeat not, a deliberate joke. If I ever get the time, I’ll mine this PC gold mine for more nuggets.)

GUILT, n. The preferred leftist means of manipulating the white working class into political activism, and a means particularly favored by academics and those from upper middle class backgrounds. The theory behind this is that telling people who are under constant financial stress, have no or inadequate medical insurance, who put off necessary dental care for years, are one paycheck away from being on the street, and are working 40 or more hours per week at jobs they hate that they are “privileged,” and that they should examine their “privilege,” is the ideal way to induce them to altruistically “struggle” in their copious free time for the “liberation” of the “oppressed” in order that the “oppressed” might reach the same “privileged” status that they themselves are so fortunate to enjoy.

–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary scheduled for June 2016

* * *

Racial inequality and economic inequality are very real problems in the United States. What’s the best way to address them? What’s the best way to talk to people, the best way to motivate people to right wrongs? One way, the inclusive way, is to approach such problems from an economic standpoint, to talk  about rich and poor, to talk about how poor people of all colors get screwed, and what can be done about it. A concrete example of that would address racial imbalance in higher education by demanding that the top 10% or 20% of every high school graduating class in a state be automatically admitted to the state’s university system. An even better, even more inclusive,  demand would be that all who want to attend be automatically granted admission, and that higher education be free for all.

There’s no economic reason not to make such a demand. This is the richest country in the world, but a large majority of people face frightening artificial scarcity, and making such a demand necessarily entails talking about artificial scarcity, the reasons for it, and what can be done about it — a very good thing in itself.  Such an approach has the potential to unite people of all colors. And it has the potential to improve the lives of people of all colors — which is self-evident. (For an explanation of artificial scarcity in the U.S.,  see Why The Work Week Should Be Much Shorter, Parts I, II, III, and IV.) This is the inclusive approach.

Then there’s the divisive approach. It’s commonly called political correctness. It addresses inequalities in racial terms, demanding improvements for members of one race only, while ignoring economic class. Crucially, it implicitly accepts the artificial scarcity in our country, it implicitly accepts that there’s not, and will not be, enough of anything good to go around. The very strong implication of this approach is that improvements for members of one race come at the expense of another.

When translated into government programs, the politically correct approach does divide people. It does drive working class whites into the arms of their right-wing “protectors.” “Affirmative action” is a good example. (The term now means something drastically different from its meaning when JFK first used it in an executive order in 1961; then it meant that government contractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” Now it means that some individuals are given preference because of race.) The underlying assumption, which virtually no one talks about, is that there’s not enough to go around. Affirmative action implicitly and strongly endorses this flat-out-wrong assumption.

It’d be far better to demand that good jobs and education be available to all who want them, and that if there are temporary blocks to this, that preference be given purely on the basis of economic need. That’s a persuasive argument, an argument that would gain wide support, and, if adopted as policy, would disproportionately benefit black and brown kids, who are disproportionately poor. The divisive PC approach, “Your kid can’t get into college because there’s a black or brown kid who’ll get preference because he’s black or brown” will, on the contrary, stimulate wide opposition and set up competition based on race.

The end result of racially based policies?  Poor and working class people of different colors fighting over crumbs, hordes of poor and working class whites flocking to right-wing demagogues–and the rich and their corporations still firmly in the saddle. Divide and conquer.

So, make your arguments and approaches economic, not racial, in nature and you might get somewhere. If you make them racial in nature, you’ll end up with poor people of different colors fighting over crumbs.

Another aspect of the problem is guilt-tripping politically correct language. Such language largely comes from academia and more especially, one suspects, from multiculturalists and postmodernists in Ivy League women’s studies, cultural studies, and sociology departments. Take for example the terms “white privilege” and “white skin privilege.” I just did a search for the origin of “white privilege” and discovered that “white privilege” only started being widely used by, first, academics and then leftists after the term was popularized in the 1980s by a Wellesley professor of women’s studies, and subsequently taken up by other academics. (I haven’t done similar searches for any of the other standard PC terms, but I suspect that most if not all have a similar origin.)

What’s wrong with the term “white privilege”? (Black and brown people do, of course, get screwed worse than white people in the USA.) Well, “privilege” is  exactly the same term that almost everyone uses to describe the rich. And, guess what, if you describe one group (whites) with exactly the same term that you describe another (the rich), it makes sense that the group so described/attacked will, at least subconsciously, conclude that they have more in common with the others being so attacked than with those doing the attacking (PC leftists).

The term also implies that white people, as such, no matter what their economic circumstances, cannot be oppressed — how can you oppress someone who’s “privileged”?–again driving a wedge between people of different colors. There’s a crucial difference between accurately describing white working class and poor people as “less oppressed” than black and brown working class people, and inaccurately calling them “privileged.” The accurate description, which posits that all economically deprived people are oppressed,  stimulates thought and discussion among all people; the inaccurate one is a grotesque insult that provokes anger among poor and working class whites. It’s profoundly divisive.

There are other problems with PC terminology. First and foremost, it’s awkward, artificial, manipulative, and often wordy and imprecise; it lends itself to ridicule. So, everyday people don’t use it. I’ve lived in a poor, 75%-brown/black neighborhood for nearly a quarter of a century, I’ve known some of my neighbors for nearly two decades, and I can’t recall ever hearing any of them use any of the standard PC terms.

So, why did politically correct phrasemakers come up with these terms in the first place? Their apparent purpose was to manipulate everyday people into a state of “higher” political consciousness through endless repetition of PC terms and phrases. After decades of use, though, it’s very evident that that project has been an abysmal failure.

Given that, why do a small minority of people continue to use these awkward, artificial terms? Some, especially “progressive” politicians and academics, seem to use them out of conventionality–their colleagues use these terms, and they want to fit in–and also out of the fear of ostracism and retaliation (in employment, for instance) within their spheres.

For those who aren’t using PC jargon purely out of conventionality and fear, it serves the same purposes all in-group jargon serves: it makes those who use it feel good about themselves, how enlightened and special they are, and it allows them to recognize each other. That most ordinary people don’t use PC terms and find them ridiculous or off-putting is entirely beside the point. The point, among those who use these terms out of fear, is self-preservation; among those who use them out of choice, the point is to feel superior and to use the terms as indicators of in-group status.

So, please drop the PC terminology. If you want people to listen to you, don’t use alienating jargon. Talk to people in plain language, the language they themselves use.

And if you want to improve their lives (and your own) economically, make your demands purely in economic, not racial, terms.

Yeah. Prii9ilege. That’s what I keep hearing from PC types. If it’s “privilege,” it’sIn the same sense as someone who’s in prison being pissed on by his guards is “privileged” in comparison to another prisoner who’s being shit on by his guards. That’s “privilege.”

I’d bet money that none of the PC assholes on Alternet,The Guardian, etc. who use that term  have ever done a day of manual labor in their entire lives. I’d bet money that they’ve never been down against it — never been  out on the streets without the bucks to pay for a room, having to get a job–any job–just to pay the rent . . . not being able to pay for basic medical care  . . . Yeah. They call all of us who are white  in those circumstances “privileged.”

Let ’em do some concrete or hot-roof work for months on end and then call themselves “privileged.”

How dare they pass judgment on us? How dare they frame the terms of debate so that it assumes their “privilege” is the same as those of us who have been shat on our entire lives?? How dare they put it in racial terms? How dare they pretend that  economic issues are racial issues?

The ultra-PC writers who condescend to and attack the white working class should just go screw themselves

They’re worse than useless.

If we’re ever going to get anywhere, get out of this artificial hellhole called the U.S. economy, we need to talk about economic justice, not race guilt-tripping.