2008 January 06 Sunday
George MacDonald Fraser On Political Correctness

Successful British novelist and screenplay writer George MacDonald Fraser (Flashman, Octopussy, The Three Musketeers) has recently died of cancer at age 82. He wrote a final essay on the evils of political correctness and Fraser argues that the politically correct have taken freedom of speech from themselves and the rest of us.

It's the present generation with their permissive society, their anything-goes philosophy, and their generally laid-back, inyerface attitude I feel sorry for.

They regard themselves as a completely liberated society when in fact they are less free than any generation since the Middle Ages.

Indeed, there may never have been such an enslaved generation, in thrall to hang-ups, taboos, restrictions and oppressions unknown to their ancestors (to say nothing of being neck-deep in debt, thanks to a moneylender's economy).

Regarding the moneylender's economy: Indebtedness used to be considered a thing to avoid and minimize. Now liberal politicians argue that the poor and the blacks can't be discriminated against in access to credit. If such discrimination existed it did people a favor and prevented debacles like the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Today the ability to be irresponsible in one's personal economic affairs is better protected than the right to speak one's mind.

We were freer by far 50 years ago - yes, even with conscription, censorship, direction of labour, rationing, and shortages of everything that nowadays is regarded as essential to enjoyment.

We still had liberty beyond modern understanding because we had other freedoms, the really important ones, that are denied to the youth of today.

We could say what we liked; they can't. We were not subject to the aggressive pressure of special interest minority groups; they are. We had no worries about race or sexual orientation; they have. We could, and did, differ from fashionable opinion with impunity, and would have laughed PC to scorn, had our society been weak and stupid enough to let it exist.

Basically, the Left holds correct leftist thinking as more important than freedom of speech. We need to undo this damage done.

Read the whole thing. He makes some excellent points. I'll make another one: People let themselves become unfree. They were too polite or too cowardly to challenge the forces of leftist dogma. Why did the forces of political correctness win? Also, will political correctness stay ascendant? Or will the rise of a real science of human nature tear it to shreds?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 January 06 09:51 AM  Civilizations Decay


Comments
HellKaiserRyo said at January 6, 2008 11:23 AM:

Here's an anecdote: I was called an "elitist" for suggesting that people are poor because they had low IQs on a Catholic forum. I never said anything about racial differences. Ironically for you Randall, I invoked IQ to sunder to Horatio Alger mythology with the conservatives on that forum: the view that any can succeed by working hard enough. IQ is a cudgel that assails liberal and conservative ideologies.

Of course, I was warned not to discuss potential solutions to that problem.

Randall Parker said at January 6, 2008 1:07 PM:

HellKaiserRyo,

Yes, the Horatio Alger mythology is a really big exaggeration. Not everyone has the capacity to succeed in a big way thru will and hard work.

Plenty of people on both sides of the political aisle have a lot invested in the set of lies that make up the politically correct elite mythology about human nature.

However, a socialist system that takes from people based on their abilities and tries to guarantee equal outcomes will produce declining living standards and an oppressive society. Also, each person has to pay a price for not working up to their potential or else we are going to encourage huge amounts of destructive and lazy behavior.

HellKaiserRyo said at January 6, 2008 1:45 PM:

I still advocate liberal agendas though, especially the welfare state.

However, one cannot be ideologically myopic. We have to acknowledge that any welfare state will collapse if there are too many free riders. Often my liberal brethren iterative chant "diversity," but you have provide some empirical reasons about its inimical effects. I thus support a conservative stance on immigration because I want a solvent welfare state.

Redistribution can be done correctly without the inimical consequences of restrictive planned economies. For example, the Northern European nation states have Gini coefficients less than .30 and are relatively affluent. Of course, intelligent policy making is a prerequisite and it should be formulated to reduce the free rider problem and potential administrative corruption from excessive redistribution.

Given the diversity of human ability, it is rather difficult to give everyone a niche in society where they can make significant contributions and feel appreciated. If that can be accomplished, the free rider problem has a viable solution. Also, I think the libertarian fetish on property rights will exacerbate the free rider problem: soon the means will be available to significantly reduce the amount of free riders in society in future generations. I do believe redistribution of resources (invariably a form of "theft" in libertarianism) is necessary to provide access to those means to everyone.

Of course, discussing those means isn't politically correct in conservative and liberal circles especially the aforementioned conservative Catholic medium.

averros said at January 6, 2008 5:51 PM:

> I still advocate liberal agendas though, especially the welfare state.

The proper term is "socialist agendas". Let's not play into the PC games and newspeak.

So you say that you advocate using or threatening violence to people who think that they should help the poor in ways different from these approved by the majority?

Violence towards those who didn't do anything bad is what differentiates modern liberals (i.e. socialists) from classical liberals (who were forced by the PC brigade to change name to "libertarians").

HellKaiserRyo said at January 6, 2008 8:53 PM:

Never said violence...

I didn't endorse any violence in the comment section of this thread.

Well, socialist is a pejorative. But if admiring Scandinavia makes me a socialist, then I am a socialist.

averros said at January 7, 2008 3:00 AM:

> Never said violence...

Welfare state is fundamentally based on violence - because to give welfare to some people it first has to take the wealth from other people - and that taking is not voluntary, it is done under threats of grave violence (such as imprisonment, forceful expropriation, or beating or killing of those who dare to resist the taxmen).

So yes, by advocating welfare state and its policies you advocate violence towards people who didn't do anything bad to others. It is as simple as that.

> Well, socialist is a pejorative.

Deservedly. I used to live in a socialist country, and all bad things you've heard about socialism do not even begin to cover the inhuman reality of it. I hope you'll never have to stand for few hours in line just to buy some butter. I did, and not so long ago to forget how it feels.

> But if admiring Scandinavia makes me a socialist, then I am a socialist.

No, that merely makes you look sorely misinformed. http://www.mises.org/story/2259

HellKaiserRyo said at January 7, 2008 3:45 AM:

"Welfare state is fundamentally based on violence - because to give welfare to some people it first has to take the wealth from other people - and that taking is not voluntary, it is done under threats of grave violence (such as imprisonment, forceful expropriation, or beating or killing of those who dare to resist the taxmen).

So yes, by advocating welfare state and its policies you advocate violence towards people who didn't do anything bad to others. It is as simple as that."

No, it isn't wrong to redistribute wealth in that fashion, and perhaps morally obligatory in utilitarian ethics. Utilitarian ethics, however, isn't bound by a slavish devotion to property rights and Pareto optimality as your arguments commonly invoke. However, if too many people receive welfare without making a contribution, the system collapses and cannot sustain itself. Moderate redistribution is acceptable, of course, but too much reduces the incentives to produce. Policies have to be constructed to prevent free-riding, which was a fault of the former AFDC welfare program.

But Randall will probably argue that the United States does not have sufficient social cohesion for a welfare state, which the Scandinavians possess. This blog provides evidence that ethnic and religious variegation causes strife.

Ned said at January 7, 2008 5:01 AM:

By the way, the "Flashman" series is a wonderful study in political UNcorrectness. Also a not-so-subtle warning to those Westerners who would meddle in the East. I've read them all and enjoyed every one. Harry Flashman is one of the greatest anti-heroes of all time.

TR said at January 7, 2008 5:53 AM:

HellKaiserRyo,
You speak of this welfare state as if it is some kind of theoretical thing. It exists and it is wrecking the United States. The welfare state by design is all about providing free rides to various groups that are destructive and parasitical while taking from those who actually produce something. We do not need social cohesion for a welfare state in the US, examples of Scandinavia notwithstanding, all we need are a bunch of socialists, race activists, communist media and academics, vote-buying politicans, etc...to have one. The welfare state in the US is based on taking from productive whites and giving to unproductive blacks and hispanics, period.

Randall Parker said at January 7, 2008 6:59 PM:

Some points about the welfare state and Sweden:

1) The Swedish welfare state is more successful than most because the Swedes have greater genetic potential.

2) The Swedes would be wealthier on average without a welfare state.

3) The Swedish welfare state is going to get into deeper trouble as dumb Middle Eastern Muslim immigrants become a larger fraction of the population of Sweden. Social cohesion? In the decline.

4) The growth of the non-Swedish population will undermine Swedish support for the welfare state in two ways. First off, the non-Swedes will do worse on the welfare state and the Swedes will notice (though maybe their press and government will make this unspeakable?). Second, the Swedes will feel less empathy for those genetically more distant.

5) The first generation of Swedes to live in the welfare state behaved better because they had the effects of growing up pre-welfare state to give them habits that made them more productive in spite of the welfare state. The later generations gradually lost these characteristics.

6) The behavior of low IQ groups is most damaged by a welfare state because welfare state benefits seem larger as compared to what low IQ people can earn. Smart people with high earning potential are far less tempted by the welfare state.

The welfare state is really the wrong solution to a lower class with lower ability and less motivation.

averros said at January 8, 2008 2:36 AM:

> No, it isn't wrong to redistribute wealth in that fashion, and perhaps morally obligatory in utilitarian ethics

There's no such thing as "utilitarian ethics" - simply because utility depends on the subject.

Your comrades threaten me with guns to take what I earned honestly from me. Because being theatened with guns is something of very low utility to me, it would be in my best interest to start defending myself by shooting you first. And would do that if I subscribed to your theory of "utilitarian ethics".

That's what "utilitarian ethics" is all about. Naked power of the crowd routinely fooled by demagogues. I'm very sorry to say that, but, as a socialist sympathizer, you do not posess any ethics. Unless you count right of the might as ethics; chimps probably have more advanced moral system.

HellKaiserRyo said at January 8, 2008 7:57 AM:

I guess progressive taxation and physical violence are synomymous in your chimeral world.

But what do you think of Peter Singer and Paul Krugman? If you consider them a socialists, call me a socialist. I am much more interested in reducing suffering instead of defending property rights in ethics. Communism doesn't work because of human nature, and do not associate utilitarianism with guns. Why are you invoking guns when I haven't mentioned it? Why do you think that violence will always be involved?

Where have I mentioned using physical violence as a way of threatening people? You are just making such things up.

TR said at January 8, 2008 9:04 AM:

"I am much more interested in reducing suffering instead of defending property rights in ethics."

Nobody is in favor of human suffering. But the "poor" in the US who are on welfare are hardly suffering. In fact, they are obese. Welfare in the US consist of free money, toys and goodies for indigent minorities. Drive past public housing and take a look at the satellite dishes and late model cars. Everyone has cell phones, new bling, $100 sneakers and expensive ghetto fashions. Public assistance ain't just food stamps either. There is WIC, school lunch programs, free mass transit, LIHEAP, tax credits, free medical care, etc...I also include Affirmative Action, "diversity" programs, etc...in welfare as well. These are not programs to help the starving. As I said, it is simply about taking money from whites via taxation and giving it to blacks and hispanics who are unproductive. In return, we get increased crime, illegitimacy, degraded culture, crap schools, racist attacks by blacks, violent inner cities, higher taxes(for normal, working people), increased calls for more "assistance" and loud, whining claims of racism. Not to mention the increase of low-IQ, unemployable people, thus leading to more demands for welfare, etc...It is a vicious cycle and liberals love it. They love it so much, they want to bring in more people who are low IQ and unproductive.

"I guess progressive taxation and physical violence are synomymous in your chimeral world."

What happens if you don't pay your taxes? You are an intelligent individual, what do you think? In the end, state power, and that includes the power of taxation, is backed up by the threat of or actual physical violence.

HellKaiserRyo said at January 8, 2008 9:20 AM:

"Not to mention the increase of low-IQ, unemployable people, thus leading to more demands for welfare, etc...It is a vicious cycle and liberals love it. They love it so much, they want to bring in more people who are low IQ and unproductive. "

In previous posts, I noted that the Scandinavian system works because that isn't a huge burden. Trouble is, that AFDC (now defunct) seems to encourage reproduction and increases the burden of the state.

There will be ways to deal with that problem... there will be ways in the future... Again, such a program in order to provide a satisfactory solution will require enormous public expenditure. I do not think PIGD and IVF will be in the means of those who have "low IQ" and "unproductive." They need to start having some better children.

Problem is that the methods required evoke irrational recoil. I think it has something to do with the "e" word.

Dave said at January 8, 2008 10:24 AM:

I don't think you can say socialism works in Sweden, as Randall said the first generation on it grew-up outside of it, and it was the same throughout the rest of Europe. To see if socialism is a success you need to see it over several generations of people who had it throughout their whole life. The reality is you will never see that because they can't afford it. Socialism in Europe temporarily worked by spending the saving of their parents generation and massively indebting their childrens generation, but as Ron Paul says the current finanacial system can't continue.

TR said at January 8, 2008 5:09 PM:

More welfare on the way with the whole subprime loan fiasco. There are rumors of a Countrywide bankruptcy. Blacks and hispanics can't pay back the money they borrowed. Guess to gets to pay for this latest example of minority stupidity and greed? And "our" gov't has been a leading force behind the madness. Like I said HellKaiserRyo, it is a vicious cycle with average whites footing the bill.

"There will be ways to deal with that problem... there will be ways in the future... Again, such a program in order to provide a satisfactory solution will require enormous public expenditure."

Now I don't want to give you a hard time, but what is the above? What are the solutions? What will they cost? Do you have any idea how much has been spent on these savages already? Liberals and Leftists and never going to let any improvement take place, these people are their pets. These aren't rational, intelligent Scandinavians. These are violent, low IQ, depraved minorities who have no interest in self-improvement. All they have is their hands out for more. When the consequences of the fucked up policies in the nation come to fruition, then we are going to be in for a very rough time. I hope and pray all the liberals who pushed for this shit suffer the most.

HellKaiserRyo said at January 8, 2008 11:02 PM:

"Now I don't want to give you a hard time, but what is the above? What are the solutions? What will they cost? Do you have any idea how much has been spent on these savages already? Liberals and Leftists and never going to let any improvement take place, these people are their pets. These aren't rational, intelligent Scandinavians. These are violent, low IQ, depraved minorities who have no interest in self-improvement. All they have is their hands out for more. When the consequences of the fucked up policies in the nation come to fruition, then we are going to be in for a very rough time. I hope and pray all the liberals who pushed for this shit suffer the most. "

Well, please pray. Please do so... pray to the God that has allowed immense human suffering. Tell me if you get benevolence. But I doubt you believe in such an inane concept and that is just a figure of speech though.

Solution: Increase IQs of their children . Costs money, but it is worth it (I'm not talking about education here). We need to make them intelligent, don't you agree? The answer is not to turn their backs on them, but to use technology to rectify the cause of the problem.

ben tillman said at January 9, 2008 5:48 AM:

Increase the IQs of their children, but not through education? I don't know what you're talking about, but I don't think it's possible. We are not God.

Engineer-Poet said at January 9, 2008 6:01 AM:

Quoth averros:

Welfare state is fundamentally based on violence - because to give welfare to some people it first has to take the wealth from other people - and that taking is not voluntary, it is done under threats of grave violence (such as imprisonment, forceful expropriation, or beating or killing of those who dare to resist the taxmen).
This is essentially what tax-increment financing does also, except that it benefits the rich who are able to extort the tax breaks rather than the average person (who pays for it all but gets no benefits).

Bob Badour said at January 9, 2008 7:37 AM:

Ben Tillman,

Correction: We are not God yet.

The day when we will be able to genetically engineer better humans is fast approaching. Already, parents kill as many as 90% of down syndrome fetuses so we are already starting to genetically engineer offspring.

Randall Parker said at January 9, 2008 5:17 PM:

Ben Tillman,

We won't need to get God's powers in order to do genetic engineering.

Bob Badour said at January 10, 2008 8:44 AM:

HellKaiserRyo,

Taxation -- progressive, regressive or otherwise -- is synonymous with physical violence.

It is vitally important to understand that government exists to enforce a monopoly on violence. That's its raison d'ętre. At some level, everything government does is an act of violence against someone. When choosing to agitate for government action, please choose wisely and after full consideration of the facts.

HellKaiserRyo said at January 10, 2008 10:53 AM:

Whose going to pay for eugenic enhancement programs? The poor?

If you think allowing children to have there traits influenced by the stochastic mechanisms of gene recombination during meiosis and the fusion of random gametes is worse than taxation, you disgust me.

I suppose people with higher intelligence are less likely to go to prison. Prison (along with welfare and other social programs) costs money to taxpayers, so it is justified to use taxes to defray for IVF and PIGD to allow disadvantaged parents the means to select for intelligent offspring.

Bob Badour said at January 10, 2008 5:51 PM:

Are you asking me about funding eugenics programs? I don't recall posting anything relevant to your questions.

If I disgust you, so be it. Nevertheless, when you agitate for government action, I ask you to choose wisely and after full consideration of the facts. Denial of the violent nature of taxation is delusion. I ask you not to make deluded demands from the rest of us.

Randall Parker said at January 10, 2008 6:10 PM:

Bob Badour,

I'm for taxes for eugenics because the net effect will be to lower total demand for the welfare state. Get forced to pay taxes for one purpose and eliminate the need for taxes for other more costly purposes. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Bob Badour said at January 10, 2008 7:15 PM:

Randall,

Contrast your position with HellKaiserRyo's: Do you favour socialism? Do you advocate for the welfare state? Do you deny the violent nature of taxation?

Correct me if I am wrong: You advocate for using taxes, an exercise of the state's monopoly on violence, to pay for eugenics to eliminate a source of competing violence. Thus you advocate for the state to maintain its monopoly on violence, to do so effectively, and to do so while minimizing total violence. That would seem a wise choice that at least tries to consider all the facts.

Am I missing anything important or ignoring important considerations?

HellKaiserRyo said at January 11, 2008 12:08 AM:

Maybe eugenics will cause a welfare state to commit apoptosis. But socialism or not, the world would be a better place if people were more intelligent.

Cragi said at January 12, 2008 9:52 AM:

http://www.thesharkbook.com/blog/2008/01/eyes-well-damned-george-macdonald.html

Guy said at April 2, 2008 5:08 AM:

Belief sets in political correctness over science can destroy nations:

http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-YNiMBk4neqgOl2HKRbQjTECjA.pedt4-?cq=1&p=2264

Lawrence said at July 24, 2011 10:55 AM:

The “Political Correctness” which Fraser railed against is but one tentacle on the octopus of Cultural Marxism. In fact the politically correct are much like the octopus: spineless invertebrates, able to change color at will and when frightened or threatened able to cloud the water with black ink. But under the rainbow of external trappings, the politically correct like the octopus are just mollusks: clams, snails and slugs.


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