Global Independent Analytics
Vladimir Golstein
Vladimir Golstein

Location: USA

Specialization: international relations, Russia

Angela Merkel – the Angel of Political Correctness: Part Two

The angels of political correctness have turned into demons of chaos and destruction.

Part I of this essay discussed PC as the new method of control. It argued that political correctness prevents any discourse that would challenge the status-quo, stifles serious discussion,  and protects the ruling order along predetermined lines of reasoning. In Part II, we will ask whether PC may have some advantages and bring Dostoevsky’s perspective to the table.

Is there a Split between Truth and Goodness?

Attempts to control the educational discourse imply that there is a split between goodness and truth. A split that was unknown to the ancient Greeks, for example. Great Russian authors have constantly resisted this split as well. This split presumes that goodness is different from truth, and has by far greater value and therefore it is reasonable to sacrifice truth for the sake of greater goodness. This politically correct, or expedient approach to truth, surely got an additional boost from recent theories that claim that “category of truth is constructed” and therefore it is our task to construct it in a particular, politically expedient way.

Truth is the friend of the oppressed

There is a great distance, however, between wholesale dismissal of reality and the realization that we can never get the whole picture, so we should try to acknowledge that eyewitnesses always have an agenda, and proceed with their information accordingly.

Consequently, whatever the truth is, and no matter how elusive it is, the years of lies, perpetrated by all kinds of benevolent regimes, should have taught us that it is the truth that is the best friend of anyone who is oppressed. It is the truth that sets us free, not lies, fantasies, or propaganda. Yet, it is this truth that is immediately sacrificed by any self-appointed PC regime that strives for some abstract goodness removed from both truth and beauty.

Dostoevsky had thoroughly explored this phenomenon of sacrificing truth and beauty for the sake of some imaginary goodness. His writings, Diary of a Writer, in particular, provide a fascinating panorama of post-Reform Russia, the period that had witnessed the abolition of serfdom, and the introduction of a rather different social, economic and political situation, under which the old discourse had been replaced with the new.  Consequently, the old gentry order began to be accused of all possible sins, including the creation of the environment that induced - if not forced - the poor and underprivileged to commit crimes.

The Great Reforms period embraced the legal reform that among other changes introduced trial by jury. It is this procedure that was immediately abused by the new politically correct discourse. Commission of crimes began to be attributed to the evil effects of environment (the faults of the previous regime, in other words) rather than to the individual himself. The skillful lawyers began to convince the newly minted jury, consisting frequently of recently liberated serves, into issuing endless acquittals of suspects. 

Reading the reports of such acquittals, Dostoevsky became shocked and bewildered. He mounted an attack on them, which sounds as fresh today as it was 150 years ago.  His words contain both analysis and warning.  “I came away[i] with a troubled feeling, almost as if I had been personally insulted. In these bitter moments I would sometimes imagine Russia as a kind of quagmire or swamp on which someone had contrived to build a palace.”[ii]

This failure to use common sense or common morality, made Dostoevsky compare unfavorably Russian jurors’ propensity for mindless acquittals, which  were turning Russia into swamp, to that of their British counterparts:

Yet, over there the juror understands from the very moment he takes his place in the courtroom that he is not only a sensitive individual with a tender heart but is, first of all, a citizen. He even thinks … that fulfilling his civic duty stands even higher than any private victory of the heart….the English juror grudgingly pronounces the guilty verdict, understanding first of all that his duty consists primarily in using that verdict to bear witness to all his fellow citizens that in old England (for which any one of them is prepared to shed his blood) vice is still called vice and villainy is still called villainy and that the moral foundations of the country endure—firm, unchanged, standing as they stood before. [Dostoevsky, “Environment”]

Dostoevsky, in other words, refuses to separate morality from truth. He views the ability to achieve and assert truth (when vice is called vice, and not virtue) as the very foundation of morality. That’s why he despairs over the corruption of morality and understanding, as the result of which, crime becomes a duty or a noble protest.  These principles are so important for Dostoevsky, that he is willing to attack for their sake, values such as generosity, compassion or the religiosity of his fellow Russians. They may view themselves more as sinner than criminals, and for this reason, they may be willing to acquit the criminals. Dostoevsky rejects this abuse of compassion. Dostoevsky insists that truth and the pain of dealing with a guilty verdict, is infinitely preferable to some fairy tale acquittal. He offers a much more complex moral scheme than the fantasy of the PC narratives. If reality is ugly, it is our task to improve it in actual life, and not in words.  He has little patience for flights of rhetorical well-meaning fancy: “How is it that our people suddenly began to be afraid of a little suffering?’ ‘It’s a painful thing,’ they say, ‘to convict a man.’ And what of it? So take your pain away with you. The truth stands higher than your pain” [Dostoevsky, “Environment”].

He then adds these profound words:

If this pain is genuine and severe, then it will purge us and make us better. And when we have made ourselves better, we will also improve the environment and make it better. And this is the only way it can be made better. But to flee from our own pity and acquit everyone so as not to suffer ourselves -–why that’s too easy. Doing that, we slowly and surely come to the conclusion that there are no crimes at all, and ‘the environment is to blame’ for everything. We inevitably reach the point where we consider crime eve a duty, a noble protest against the environment.

Dostoevsky’s rejection of legal newspeak, of the benevolent talk that under the guise of understanding the downtrodden, has, in fact, betrayed them and their true predicament, unfortunately fell on dead ears. His insights were dismissed by the young radicals of his time who --in their propensity for “simplifications” --preferred schemes that were far more linear than Dostoevsky’s complex dialectics of a simultaneous condemnation of a criminal and the hard work of improving reality.

Similar dismissals of common sense and hard work, characterize all sorts of PC doctrinaires, ranging from Nadezhda Krupskaya, Lenin’s wife, to Angela Merkel, the political leader of today’s Germany. They all seem to embrace this politically correct approach to information and education. It is the view that presumes that we are what we read, and therefore only the “politically correct” information should be allowed to enter the heads of  ”little pitchers,” the term used in Dickens’ Hard Times about students.

Consequently, one indeed feels that Europe has been plunged into a swamp or a quagmire of Dostoevsky’s imagination, a groundless entity incapable of dealing with concrete reality. By insisting on a discourse that obfuscates reality, the continent turns itself into a swamp, into a primeval mud and chaos. The language usually develops into a particular direction, it strives toward a more nuanced and complex understanding of reality. Yet, this deliberate obfuscation, this obliteration of distinctions, clearly reverses the process of creation. Biblical God operated by turning chaos into a set of distinctions and differences, dividing dry from wet, light from darkness, heaven from earth, and the man from a woman. PC acts in the opposite direction, it obliterates distinctions. It pushes us back into chaos. There is an expression “to fish in troubled waters” (Russians use the term “in muddy waters”).  PC practitioners deliberately muddy waters, so that the criminals can fish, abuse, violate and destroy with impunity. The angels of political correctness have turned into demons of chaos and destruction.

PC seeks to reverse the act of creation, to turn the world upside down. As a prophet several millennia before Dostoevsky said:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight![iii] 

 

[i] [From reading these reports, VG]

[ii] Dostoevsky, Fyodor. “Environment.” In his Writer’s Diary. Vol. 1873-1876,  Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1997: 132-136.

[iii] Isaiah 5:21-22

 

Related ARTICLES

EU Blackmailed by Turkey, Member States blackmailed by EU

EU Blackmailed by Turkey, Member States blackmailed by EU

The crème-de-la-crème efforts of the EU to address the refugee crisis are pathetic.

03 June 2016

by Valerijus Simulik

Can we all just be like Berlin?

Can we all just be like Berlin?

Why do we all like Berlin so much?

14 May 2016

by Joshua Tartakovsky

SALAFISM IN CATALONIA: A NEW BELGIUM IN SOUTHERN EUROPE?

SALAFISM IN CATALONIA: A NEW BELGIUM IN SOUTHERN EUROPE?

We still do not realize that Belgium is a country of immigration like all Europe is becoming.

21 April 2016

by Ester Gallego

POPULAR ARTICLES

Not Found

OPINION

Vladimir Golstein

Vladimir Golstein

The Danderous Acceptance of Donald Trump

James N. Green

James N. Green

Politics in Brazil: Fasten Your Seat Belts!

Barbara H. Peterson

Barbara H. Peterson

Health officials confirm spread of Zika virus through sexual contact in Texas, first in US

Danny Haiphong

Danny Haiphong

WHY IS OTTO(SUPER)MAN ERDOGAN LOSING HIS CHARISMA?

Miray Aslan

Miray Aslan

How relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a breaking point

Navid Nasr

Navid Nasr

How relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a breaking point

Writers

chief editor

Joshua Tartakovsky

Analysis should serve as a method to better understand our world, not to obscure it.

Materials: 42

Specialization: Israel and the Middle East, US politics

Materials: 7

Specialization: Balkans, NATO and EU policies, Strategic communications

Materials: 3

Specialization: Foreign politics, Immigration, Human rights.

Materials: 2

Specialization: Political Science, Social Anthropology

Materials: 3

Specialization: Eastern Europe

Materials: 14

Specialization: Industrial Safety, Corporations

Materials: 12

Specialization: Eastern Europe, Labor movement

Materials: 3

Specialization: American history, way of life, and principles

Danielle Ryan

Ireland

Materials: 10

Specialization: US foreign policy, US-Russia relations and media bias

Materials: 20

Specialization: War, Racism, Capitalist exploitation, Civil rights

Materials: 8

Specialization: Modern Japanese History, Modern Chinese History, Military History, History of Counterinsurgency, History of Disobedience, Dynamics of Atrocities in Wartime

Dovid Katz

Lithuania

Materials: 3

Specialization: Holocaust Revisionism and Geopolitics; East European Far Right & Human Rights; Yiddish Studies & Litvak Culture

Materials: 20

Specialization: History, Catalunya, Spain, Geopolitics, Nationalism in Europe, Islamization, Immigration

Materials: 5

Materials: 3

Specialization: migration, international relations

Materials: 1

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy and strategies, BRICS/SCO

Materials: 19

Specialization: Balkans, Yugoslavia

Materials: 10

Specialization: Jihadist Groups, Islamic Terrorism, Global Security

Materials: 4

Specialization: Geopolitics

Materials: 4

Specialization: Media and government relations

Materials: 2

Specialization: Latin America, Brazil

Jay Watts

Canada

Materials: 2

Specialization: History, Marxism-Leninism, Imperialism, Anti-imperialism.

Materials: 2

Specialization: International Relations, Sociology, Geostrategy

Materials: 1

Specialization: civil rights

Lionel Baland

Belgium

Materials: 22

Specialization: Euroscepticism, Patriotic parties of Europe

Maram Susli

Australia

Materials: 3

Specialization: Geopolitics

Materials: 2

Specialization: Civil rights, Racism, US politics

Materials: 1

Specialization: geopolitics, economics

Max J. Schindler

Palestine-Israel

Materials: 9

Specialization: Politics

Miray Aslan

Turkey

Materials: 12

Specialization: Media, Politics

Materials: 5

Specialization: Politics, International relations

Navid Nasr

Croatia

Materials: 13

Specialization: Global security, Politics

Materials: 9

Specialization: Development of European Union, Non-governmental organizations, Politics and economics in Baltic States

Materials: 9

Specialization: Greece, Crisis of the US hegemony; Israel / Occupied Palestine, Oppression of Black people in the US

Materials: 4

Specialization: geopolitics, Russia, USSR

Pedro Marin

Brazil

Materials: 17

Specialization: Latin America, Ukraine, North Korea

Materials: 13

Specialization: Sustainable development, International relations, Comparative European politics, European integration, Eastern European politics and EU-Russia relations

Materials: 8

Specialization: Politics

Materials: 16

Specialization: Counterterrorist Finance

Seyit Aldogan

Greece

Materials: 3

Specialization: ISIS, Middle East, Globalization, Migrant crisis

Materials: 1

Specialization: Head of "Srebrenica Historical Project"

Materials: 3

Specialization: Economy, Social politics

Stevan Gajic

Serbia

Materials: 1

Specialization: Full time researcher at the Institute for European Studies

Materials: 5

Specialization: Geopolitics, Geoeconomics

Materials: 2

Specialization: Civil rights

Tobias Nase

Germany

Materials: 8

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy, Ukraine

Valerijus Simulik

Lithuania

Materials: 2

Specialization: Politics and economics in Baltic States, education and science, non - governmental organizations, globalization and EU

Van Gelis

Greece

Materials: 17

Specialization: Middle East

Materials: 1

Specialization: Kosovo, Serbia, Belgrad bombing

Materials: 5

Specialization: international relations, Russia

toTop