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“political correctness … It’s about power, and always has been”

16 December 2015


“PC is certainly not new. Students have always supported daft political ideas, largely because these ideas are seen as attractive, sexy and high-status.

American students, in particular, have had a hugely intolerant streak for at least five decades, and some of the things they did in the 1970s were arguably worse than today’s escapades. E.O. Wilson, for example, ‘became a target of vilification and harassment’ (in Steven Pinker’s words) after suggesting in Sociobiology that things like altruism and violence were caused by evolution. These days, university authorities avoid dangerous themes like this, for fear that it might upset students.

Identity politics has been embedded in American (and so British) life for four decades, but it seems to be getting worse. Perhaps this is just the manifestation of the ugly stage of revolution, when revolutionaries must turn on each other; it may also be that, as universities have become less white and male, the number of people incentivised to feel grievances has grown.

Incentives certainly play a big part; if students, and people in wider society, are rewarded for seeing injustice and slights everywhere, then they will see them everywhere. If people who cause disturbances in institutions over trivial or contrived reasons are rewarded – with the resignation of a senior staff member, for instance – rather than discouraged, then more people will do it.

Part of the problem with the American – and British – left is that the previous generation has built a system of grievance-based politics which strongly incentivises younger members to try to outflank them with ever more extreme demands. Therefore the revolution must consume its children in order to progress, until eventually social justice politics reaches its singularity. Or reaction sets in.”


– Ed West, Speaking writing after the recent events at The University of Missouri, Yale, and other schools.

Read the whole article here.


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