Saturday, January 22, 2011

Magnet on Culture

Today’s political correctness movement makes explicit—and takes to a zany extreme—ideas that have long been central to the cultural revolution. PC makes clear that trashing the culture has been not an incidental feature of the new order, but a key intention. If the cultural revolution has been aiming at liberation, the thing we most need liberating from—according to PC orthodoxy—is the entire structure of Western culture, which adds up to nothing more than a farrago of racism, sexism, and classism aimed at oppressing the poor, black, and weak. So it needs to be deconstructed, devalued, and robbed of its authority if the dispossessed are ever really to be free. Traditional standards of ethics, merit, and achievement are arbitrary designations, designed to stigmatize and put down the poor, the nonwhite, and other victims.

This approach leaves the poor without the very values that point the way toward the mainstream. To solve the problems of the worst-off, we must not only stop doing what clearly doesn’t work; we must also rehabilitate the few powerful ideas that for two centuries succeeded in transforming huddled masses into free and prosperous American citizens: responsibility, freedom under the rule of law, equal rights for individuals, and the freedom to shape one’s own fate.

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