While justified as a request for greater civility and the avoidance of unjustified discrimination over the last 40 years,l political correctness has morphed into an Orwellian nightmare of distorted language and mind control. Orwell observed in his essay, Politics and the English Language, ‘If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought’ and there is no doubt we are now living in a world where reason and rationality no longer prevail and where words, phrases and concepts have been weaponised by the cultural Left in the campaign to impose its ideological agenda.
Best illustrated by the slogan “War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength”, the strategy is to force citizens to accept two or more conflicting concepts, thus, ensuring compliance by determining how people conceptualise and think. Orwell writes doublethink involves the ability “…to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic”.
Such is the bizarre and irrational world of woke. Babies are no longer born girls or boys, rather they are “assigned” a gender at birth, with some parents waiting months before they decide where their newborn infant sits on the LGBTIQ+ spectrum. In maternity hospitals breast feeding is described as ‘chest feeding’, mothers renamed ‘birthing parents’ and fathers as ‘non-gestational persons’. Woke language is also used as a weapon to vilify and attack those who refuse to conform or who dare to question what has become the new orthodoxy.
Men arguing that not all males are sexual predators and cautioning that women should be aware of the dangers involved in walking alone through a dark and deserted park at 3am, are condemned as misogynist and sexist. Any who suggest not all cultures are equal and new arrivals should make some attempt to assimilate are attacked as racist and xenophobic. To argue it is wrong that schools and universities always portray Western civilisation as classist, sexist, homophobic, racist and guilty of oppressing ‘the other’ is to be guilty of white supremacism.
One only has to follow debates on social media sites such as Twitter, where primitive groupthink and hysteria prevail, to realise raw emotion has long since replaced civility, rationality and reason. In this brave new world of cultural Left mind control Descartes’s maxim ‘I think, therefore I am’ is replaced by ‘I feel, therefore I am right’.
While a recent phenomenon, the origins of political correctness and wokeness can be traced to Germany’s Frankfurt School established in the mid-1920s and before that to the work of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche considered by many as the father of nihilism. The Frankfurt School championed critical theory and cultural Marxism and the academics involved included Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, and Walter Benjamin.
All advocated a radically new and all-encompassing interpretation of classical Marxist thought, in part due to the realisation the proletarian revolution would never occur in the West. Instead of expecting capitalism to decline because of its inherent contradictions and the course of history they argued for a liberating and emancipatory form of radical change directed at the cultural foundations of Western societies. As described by the Italian academic Augusto Del Noce in his essay Authority versus Power published in The Crisis of Modernity:
Their revolutionary stance is a radical affirmation of the transition “from the reign of necessity to the reign of freedom,” understood in the strongest sense. Thus, the disappearance of authority must be viewed as the end point of progressive thought, which, in fact, presents itself as a process of liberation from authority, theological or human, transcendent or empirical…
The ’60s sexual liberation movement, the cultural Left’s preoccupation with radical gender theory, where human biology is negated, the argument that knowledge is a social construct based on power relationships and there are no absolute truths can all be traced to the Frankfurt School. Religion, especially Christianity, has been an especial target of cultural Marxism, drawing on Antonio Gramsci’s description of socialism as the “religion destined to kill Christianity”. The fact any who disagree with or fail to conform to woke ideology are immediately attacked and silenced is also attributable to the totalitarian nature of cultural Marxism and the belief that civility, impartiality and morality must be rejected in the battle to overturn capitalism and herald a man-made utopia on this earth.
Like Lenin’s statement, “Morality is whatever serves the success of the proletarian revolution” and drawing on Marcuse’s essay Repressive Tolerance, woke activists go to any lengths to force their ideology on people and silence any opposition. The cultural revolution of the ’60s, when all forms of authority were undermined and a range of radical, liberating philosophies, including deconstructionism, postmodernism and feminist, gender and postcolonial theories arose, also underpins political correctness and wokeism.
As a result, literary classics are deconstructed and analysed in terms of gender, ethnicity and class, the history of Western civilisation is characterised by white supremacism, imperialism and exploitation and Western societies like England, America and Australia are said to be riven with structural sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism and racism.
Such is the power and dominance of cultural Left ideology and the threat it represents to Western civilisation. The English cultural critic and public intellectual Roger Scruton writes in Conservatism, “Understanding political correctness and finding ways to combat it have therefore become prominent among conservative causes” and, as a result, the culture wars are “central to their sense of what they are fighting for and why”. Scruton also argues conservatives, in particular, are duty bound to
…rediscover what we are and what we stand for, and having rediscovered it, be prepared to fight for it. That is now, as it has ever been, the conservative message. And what we stand for is a religious as much as a political inheritance.
That such a battle needs to be engaged is made even more crucial at a time of international uncertainty and conflict, as illustrated by Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine and Xi Jinping’s campaign to achieve global hegemony. If ever there was a time for the West to be confident and assertive and convinced of its own validity and worth, then this is it.
The above is an extract from Dr Kevin Donnelly’s The Dictionary Of Woke: How Orwellian Language Control and Group Think Are Destroying Western Societies.