Bruce Charlton’s Psychology of Political Correctness

Bruce Charlton – Professor of Theoretical Medicine at the University of Buckingham – has started publishing draft sections from a book on which he is working. The first installment starts:

Political correctness, or PC, is now pervasive and dominant in the West.

PC is not a joke, it is extremely powerful and extremely widespread – indeed hardly anybody among the intellectual elite, the ruling class, is immune – most are deeply complicit, even those who laugh at what they regard as the absurdities and excesses of PC.

(In ten years time these same individuals will be zealously defending these absurdities and regarding the excesses as middle of the road mainstream).

This is my sense as well. It is easy, when one hears that one is supposed to say “personholes” instead of “manholes”, say, to dismiss it as absurd – until one finds oneself, several years later, saying the new term.

I tend to focus on how political correctness is a contingent result of various interest groups exerting political power, but I think that Charlton is right to see a more fundamental thread to the general phenomenon.

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