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The death of political correctness

Liz Hunt of the Telegraph talks about the “politically correct zealotry” that we have witnessed under the command of Harriet Harman. In the last few days, she has risibly, and to much contempt, stated publicly that the Labour Party should always be governed by women and that the banking crisis would not have happened with Lehman Sisters (surely Lehwoman, or Lehperson, the semantic digression that this line of thinking discourages). This has accompanied direction that the government should champion feminist issues and an Equality Bill demanding quotas and positive discrimination to women in the middle of a recession.

Yet, her statements have been greeted with contempt: a damaging eccentricity that we can shrug off and return to common sense. Like any poisonous ideology that crosses the grain of humanity, political correctness is gradually being rejected by the political corpus, including its bases such as feminism and multiculturalism.

Harman’s outbursts are made from weakness, not strength. Forthcoming electoral defeat sharpens the ideological zeal as they have less time to achieve their goals. And yet, if no startling conversion to social justice has embedded itself in the natural acceptance and tolerance of ourselves (a trend which New Labour halted and reversed, like social mobility), NuLAb is forced to turn to its coercive tool: law, law, more law and quango.

As this rabble float towards their Niagara, we can foresee that the fundi zealots will hasten their demand for more radical surgery to achieve their ends, whilst the realists prepare for defeat. The movement itself is dying, unpopular, unmourned, though the command and control culture will take many years to pass through the governmental anus, showering its detritus over the fleeced taxpayer.

31 comments to The death of political correctness

  • matlock

    I have for some time harbored some hope that the onset of recession might bring an end to political correctness. No such luck.

    If Ms Harman’s Equality Bill goes through then she will have the last laugh. What people say about her now is of little consequence. The conservatives won’t undo anything.

    The only consolation is that in the long run human nature will win out.

  • JS

    Just more of the NuLab scorched-earth policy.

  • ThousandsOfMilesAway

    As the Devil has made reference(Link) to, credit default swaps (famously dubbed ‘financial weapons of mass destruction’ in 2003 by Warren Buffett) were in fact invented by a woman.

  • Simon

    A cartoon in the Times, “Comfort eating in the face of impending doom”:

    At a creaking table laden with empty plates a pink wobbly obese state with the face of Harriet Harman shoveling in the last plates of ideology and coercive regulations and dropping spills in all directions. Cut through to the stomach shaped puce blob labeled human nature and the guts of our economy, both straining to bursting point with Brown filth.

    The obese nude is sat upon an unfortunate cold and naked sheep. A farmer in a suite carries a HMRC briefcase and is holding his nose while he shaves away the last tuft of fur from its brow. The beginnings of Harriet’s extensive feast dripping over its naked skin onto the floor, greeted by flies. Perhaps a shattered chair lies nearby.

    In the back ground a window through which a country scene and the slaughterhouse of the next general election. On the table a letter “Dear NHS, I am writing to request… I am ill …. remove my stomach …. nothing else has worked”

    A path leads from the slaughterhouse and a man in a white coat carrying a bloody cleaver stands in a doorway consulting his paperwork with a confused expression “am I here for a sheep a pig or a cow?”

  • Johnatahn Pearce

    ThousandsOfMilesAway, what point are you trying to make? CDS’s are merely tradable insurance policies where the risk being insured – default – is something that is worth insuring against, just like it makes sense to insure a house against theft or fire, etc. The problem is that banks, due to capital requirement rules, sought to reduce their credit risk exposure as much as possible by use of these things and when the defaults began to rise, a lot of the holders of the insurance risk were not ready.

    But the underlying concept of insuring a risk of default is not new, nor something to be ashamed of, whether the techniques were produced by a man or woman.

  • Oh, how I wish I could believe a word of this.

    How it works-

    One of the oligarchy flies a kite for the next stage of The Project. Everyone says its barmy.

    A bit later, the policy is implemented.

    Everyone gets used to the policy, it is imbedded in the social structure, and becomes impossible to reverse.

    One of the oligarchy flies a kite…

  • All the ‘rights’ movments (fminism, gay rights, etc etc) are dead IMO. Under the (admittedly labyrinthine) law of the land all these groups have equal rights, more or less. Time for them to shut up and get on with their lives and leave the rest of us alone. As I said in a previous comment: The claim of persecution is often used to gain the power to persecute and holds no water with me.

  • All the ‘rights’ movments (fminism, gay rights, etc etc) are dead IMO.

    Really? Try publishing a job advert that reads, “Required, office administrator. No women or gays” and see how dead they are. I would personally characterise them not as being dead, but having entirely succeeded.

  • Patrick B

    Far from dead, I would have thought. The public discourse may have slowed have quietened, but the next phase—-implementation at lower management levels—is in full swing.

    This is the way Alinsky, and Lenin before him, urged social change. Get the big principle accepted by the self-appointed Vanguard of Public Opinion; make a few strategic moves in public; then have the apparatchiks do the grunt work at the bureaucratic coal-face. Look at Harman’s schemes: the Party generates the Big Idea: Equality; the Party when in Power creates an aspirational and legal empowerment Act; the civil service at all three levels of government gets to work on regulations and practices. From time to time the Vanguard generates further news to re-energise the continuing struggle.

    By the time it is at the last phase it is unstoppable because ubiquitous. Hordes of minor functionaries attend “Workshops” (was it someone on this Blog who rightly called this the most terrifying word in the English language?) and go home full of righteous glow and other people’s schemes. It is almost at the Parish Council level now.

    Obama was a student of Saul Alinsky. I’d urge Samizdatai to read his pernicious works if they wish to understand where the Change Artist is coming from. They would also find Alinsky’s works enlightening on the Hard NuLab project.

  • MichaelV

    “though the command and control culture will take many years to pass through the governmental anus, showering its detritus over the fleeced taxpayer”

    Beautiful prose!

  • mike

    “..the command and control culture will take many years to pass through the governmental anus..”

    Command and control is the nature (if not always perhaps the purpose) of government, and the above quoted phrasing fails to distinguish this point from the intended meaning of the creeping measure of this “command and control culture”.

    After Labour is expunged, the Tories will be (what? ingested?) in charge – this may or may not mean a decrease in the rate of increase in the size of government. But the nature of the thing in Westminster will remain the same.

  • llamas

    I saw where Ms Harman’s grand plan to solve the problem of inadequate conviction rates for rape went down in flames and I thought ‘good, there’s some hope for common sense yet.’

    And then I saw that the reason it went down in flames was procedural only – the other cabinet members were so in awe of its scope and grandeur that they didn’t feel it could get done in the timeframe desired. Nothing wrong with the idea, just a question of implementation and timetable.

    Meet the new boss – same as the old boss. . . .



  • virgil xenophon

    Patrick B zeros in on the all-encompassing bureaucratic
    momentum of it all which, once emesched in the sociocultural matrix top-to-bottom, is almost impossible to root out and leaves it’s ideological spoors deposited everywhere only awaiting the day for more favorable conditions to metastasize even further. The effect is the same as seen by the example of those seedlings which lay dormant buried deep in the desert soil for centuries when, finally touched by the first drop of water from the rare rainstorm, spring back to life and propagate anew with the same or even greater vigour.

  • Anomenat


    CDS’s are merely tradable insurance policies… The problem is that banks, due to capital requirement rules, sought to reduce their credit risk exposure as much as possible by use of these things and when the defaults began to rise, a lot of the holders of the insurance risk were not ready.

    But why weren’t the holders of the insurance risk ready? I would suggest that the primary reason that they weren’t ready is that credit default swaps are a real bugger to value.

    I have spent a lot of time working with portfolios of CDS-backed CDOs and I am pretty sure that until recently most of the risk holders simply did not know how much risk they were exposed to. Some of this was willful ignorance – head-in-the-sand groupthink stuff – but a lot of it was due to the fact that it’s really hard to calculate this sort of thing.

    My experience leads me, in this particular instance anyway, to agree with Warren Buffett when he says that these things “spread risk and uncertainty about the value of the underlying assets more widely, rather than reduce risk through diversification.”

  • Patrick B has hit the nail on the head.

    One consequence of what he describes is that even if a non-leftist party were to be elected, it would find it impossible to stop the process without effectively destroying the entire state apparatus. The machine carries on doing the same thing regardless of what levers you pull in Westminster. And due to the feedbacks, the machine controls what Westminster does anyway.

    Which is one reason why I don’t much care who wins the next election.

  • Ivan

    Ian B:

    One of the oligarchy flies a kite for the next stage of The Project. Everyone says its barmy.

    A bit later, the policy is implemented.

    Everyone gets used to the policy, it is imbedded in the social structure, and becomes impossible to reverse.

    Well said. It would be funny if it weren’t tragic to see naive libertarians like Philip Chaston rejoicing every time at the public reaction to step one and claiming that the monster has finally been defeated. Sometimes I wonder how they manage to remain blind to this pattern, which has been repeated so many times that it should be entirely obvious. Such outbursts of optimism remind me of those hilarious press releases by Saddam Hussein’s information minister that were tirelessly announcing the imminent American defeat as the U.S. tanks were rolling into Baghdad.

    If nothing else, libertarian optimists like Philip Chaston should consider the fact that the likes of Harriet Harman nowadays populate not only the elected government positions, from where they could perhaps be voted out, but also the vast and firmly entrenched bureaucratic armies that are completely shielded from electoral politics — the civil service, the academia and the rest of the education system, the EU, UN, and other transnational bureaucracies, quangos and other “NGOs,” etc., etc. The elected governments will dance to their tune regardless of who is voted in tomorrow, whether an explicitly leftist party like the U.K. Labor or the U.S. Democrats, or a paper-tiger conservative party like the Tories or Republicans, or even something more extreme like UKIP, for that matter. The entire democratic political process nowadays has only slightly more influence on the actual government policy than those fake showpiece opposition parties that used to exist in Communist Poland or East Germany.

    This is what we’re up against, and if there is any hope for the future, the situation must be recognized for what it is first. Mindless proclamations of victory in the midst of crushing defeats will certainly get us nowhere. Of course, maybe I’m wrong and the U.K. will enter a libertarian renaissance under the leadership of David Cameron and whoever he chooses to lead the Government Equalities Office instead of Harriet Harman. Maybe Elvis will turn up alive and say he’s been abducted by a UFO, too.

  • Ivan, I think it’s because people generally presume that how a thing is officially described is how it actually is. So our system is described as a sovereign parliamentary democracy, so people carry on presuming it actually is one. Sort of like thinking that because judges are described as impartial, they actually are impartial.

    It’s why I get tired of all the rejoicing about getting rid of Gordon Brown. People really seem to think that this will make some kind of difference. As you describe, the entire enormous system is implementing the progressive project. The idea that a new government can just come in and stop that is phenomenally naive.

    People need to remember that it was under the long Thatcher government- the most “right wing” neoliberal government since WWII- that “political correctness” started to dominate. Feeble oppositional attempts by that government were either ignored (Clause 28) or subverted (National Curriculum). The government simply isn’t the seat of political power any more (if it ever truly was).

  • Ivan

    Ian B,

    Yes, this is why I insist that before we can even start considering whether the course might be changed, the true nature of the present system must be recognized. At its heart is the duplicitous worship of “democracy,” which is officially considered as the only valid political principle and at the same time completely avoided in practice by the progressive establishment. By this I mean the vast cancerous networks of the civil service, academia, NGOs, transnational bodies, public sector unions, etc. that wield the true power in the Anglosphere and the rest of the Western world today and invariably espouse the standard progressive agenda, with only slight variations.

    This duplicity is especially apparent when elected politicians actually try to interfere with the progressive agenda in any way. Tenured career bureaucrats and their ideological fellow travelers will raise bloody hell in sheer shock and indignation, insisting with flawless doublethink that any interference with their work by electoral politics is a fascist “threat to democracy.” Of course, politicians come and go, while the tenured establishment is permanent and perfectly isolated from public opinion — which it in fact largely shapes through its influence on the mainstream media, in which it is presented as the voice of objective science and moral respectability — so it’s no wonder who wins at the end. In fact, even with the most radically anti-progressive politicians, the conflicts that occur in practice are fairly minor. A politician who attempted a full head-on collision with the progressive establishment would be doing the equivalent of trying to stop a moving train by jumping in front of it. It would be as if one of those fake “oppositon” members of the East German parliament tried to challenge the Party establishment and denounce the Soviet comrades.

    The ideal of the progressives is enlightened public policy guided by (what they consider) pure science and objective moral principles, free of any undue influence from frail human politics, to which only evil or deluded individuals could ever object. Of course, humans being what they are, what guides them in practice turns more often than not to be slanted pseudoscience and cheap and incoherent feel-good ideology, and the view from their offices, ivory towers, and moralistic, self-congratulating social cliques is extremely detached from reality. The monstrosity is eerily perfect in that is has no central coordination or leadership, and achieves near-perfect synchronization based on decentralized mechanisms of patronage, ideological screening, and the flow of ideas coming from its intellectual nerve centers (primarily the university system).

    I have no idea how the power of this juggernaut could be broken, but if there is any hope for this to happen, it would be good if libertarians and its other opponents would first understand its structure and admit the extent to which it already has taken over all significant levers of power. Otherwise, the future holds nothing but the likes of Harriet Harman stamping on our faces forever, or at least until they wreck things so badly that they get overthrown in some upheaval that’s too scary to even contemplate.

  • Phillip, I am sorry, but I really do think this is a posting from the depths of your own personal fantasies.

    I often find IanB to be overly pessimestic, but in this case I am in full agreement.

    The proponents of this pernicious movement are entrenched throughout all levels of government, organised labour and charity, both fake and real. Removing them will be the work of a generation of determined activists, and I see no sign of thse activists arising.

  • Anomenat, you are looking at a snapshot. Back in the day stocks were considered crazy wild risks too – who could be so reckless to own stocks when bonds are a perfectly fine way to raise capital?

    What CDS’s do is simply dissociate the the default risk from an underlying debt security. That does not make that risk vanish, and yes, it can concentrate it in the portfolio of someone who wants it. The fact that some dumb folks estimated that risk poorly does not make the instrument evil – if you fail to do your due diligence, you can lose money with pretty much any financial instrument, and with quite a few non-financial ones.

    Blaming CDS’s for the current crisis is the financial equivalent of blaming guns for murder rates. Those who want to murder someone can do it with a brick no less successfully than with a gun – and actually more easily so if assured the victim does not have a gun. Those who want to lever up can do it without CDS’s; however, those who want to invest in bonds, but do not care for the default risk, can do so with CDS’s.

    If you like eponymous laws… these are gloriously at work here:

    1) Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”
    2) Amara’s Law: “”We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run”. (CDS’s are just another “technology’)
    3) Goodhart’s Law: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure”.
    4) Murphy’s version of Murphy’s Law: “If there’s more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way.”

  • I agree with all that Ivan. Excellent comment as usual.

    I just remembered something I noticed the other day that is one of the zillion examples of how deeply rooted the whole progressivist system is now throughout our society. I was looking at the website of my local tennis club. Here’s their “Equity Policy Statement”.

  • Ivan

    Ian B:

    I just remembered something I noticed the other day that is one of the zillion examples of how deeply rooted the whole progressivist system is now throughout our society. I was looking at the website of my local tennis club. Here’s their “Equity Policy Statement”.

    Recently I had a similarly depressing episode when I was helping a less computer-savvy friend write his CV and cover letters for a few job applications. I noticed that on each corporate website on which he was applying, by the time you manage to click through to the job applications page, you’re deluged with a slew of messages about “social responsibility,” “environmental consciousness,” “diversity,” “equity,” and all other imaginable PC cliches. On some of them, you’d have to struggle to find your way through this bullshit to even find out what the business of the company is supposed to be in the first place.

    This might look like just a minor silly irritation, but it seems to me like it’s a manifestation of a much more sinister phenomenon. In the USSR, all institutions had to have political commissars attached to ensure ideological compliance with the party line. The modern progressives, however, have managed to implement a far more effective mechanism of ideological self-policing by imposing a system of impossibly complicated, incoherent, and contradictory laws and regulations on every private institution, where whatever you do, you can be prosecuted or sued for violating some environmental, safety, anti-trust, anti-discrimination, or God knows what other regulation. It’s literally impossible to do anything that couldn’t provide a pro forma pretext for such punishment and/or a media lynching for violating the enlightened norms and sensibilities. So, we see every private institution humbly pleading “Please don’t punish us, you see that we’re bending over backwards to follow the party line!”

    In a way, I admire the perverse collective genius that engineered this sheer perfection of party line enforcement. What makes the whole thing bitterly ironic is when I see the hordes of young activists joining various progressive causes, believing that they are fighting a cool rebellious crusade against entrenched injustice, unaware that in fact they’re serving as loyal soldiers of an ideological control system that makes Stasi look entirely inefficient and backward, like an abacus compared to a modern laptop.

  • Laird

    Ian B, I especially enjoyed the part where they pledge to treat everyone equally without regard to “social/economic status”. I presume that means they’ll let non-members play free if they can’t afford to join the club, right?

    You play at this club? On grass? I’ve never even seen a grass court in person, let alone played on one. Damn, I’m jealous!

  • Ah, no, I’m afraid I don’t even know what end of a tennis bat to hold, so your jealousy (of me at least) is misplaced. I just looked it up because it’s in the village, and I was bored and websurfing on a whim, I’m afraid.

  • Ivan-

    In a way, I admire the perverse collective genius that engineered this sheer perfection of party line enforcement.

    Well, it was the Americans that figured it out, but then America is the keystone of the whole progressive arch (as I’ve suggested elsewhere, what we’re suffering is a specifically anglospheric form of statism/socialism, and the USA is the centre of the anglosphere). They figured it out because they’re a land of lawyers.

    Rather than the inefficiency and lack of coverage of a secret police system, or of having citizens report their fellows to said secret police, you turn every citizen into a potential enforcer by use of the court system. They are incentivised by the potential rewards, which can be enormous. Progressivist legal firms, acting in the pseudo-market, are the “community organisers” of the system- again motivated by profit as well as zeal. The state only has to pass a few laws about discrimination, then you leave it to the legal system to do the rest. Very clever system, really. You get a tyranny actively maintained and extended by the citizens themselves.

  • virgil xenophon


    If you’re looking for grass courts, the Club at Harrow-on-Hill in London has both grass and clay–or at least it did when I played there in the 70s. They used to allow we USAF types to hold the 3rd AF UK tennis tournament there. I well remember my first Wimbledon (either 70 or 71IIRC) I attended was thanks to a club member there whom I chanced by in the changing room who graciously gave me his tickets as he was unable to go for some reason or another. They were centre court. 2nd row off court just to right of umpire’s chair. Watched Newcombe-Rosewall singles match and doubles of Tiriac-“Nastase” v. Bob Hewitt-Fred McMillian, last was a 5-setter that carried over to next day.

  • Paul Marks

    The P.C. legions have the regulations on their side (after all they created the regulations), however I agree that the public mood is against them.

    Whether this public hostility (even among the young and unversity educated – who have been subjected to P.C. brainwashing all their lives) will have a real effect I do not know.

    I like to think it will.

  • watcher in the dark

    IanB “I don’t even know what end of a tennis bat to hold”

    And there was me thinking it was a tennis stick.

  • iain

    An Unqualified Black Man & a Highly Qualified White Man apply for a job, Who gets it ??
    Niether of them, because the politically correct human resourse department hire a Handicapped,
    Lesbian, Non-english speaking, Moslem, Illegal immigrant instead…… Demands for a budget increase
    will soon follow to allow adaption of the building and contents to reflect the dissability needs.
    Language lessons for the rest of the employees so they can communicate with their new ‘co-worker’.
    Construction of a Mosque will follow and the cafeteria will change its menue to reflect the new
    religious/cultural requirements that will be enforced on everyone else….