One of the problems I’ve found in coming up with stuff to post here is that whenever I read something that I think would be worth linking to or commenting on, I realise that it’s on Samizdata, or EURef, or somewhere else that I know most of this blog’s readers will be familiar with themselves. Combine that with the frustration of persuading the cats in the server to do anything at all, and I usually don’t bother.
But (although you all should) I don’t know how many Kitty Kounters read the Libertarian Alliance blog regularly, so this article, “Where Calvin meets Mao” is probably worth pointing out. It reminded me of IanB’s idea that Political Correctness is just the modern manifestation of Calvinism, methodism, and other forms of hair-shirt Christianity. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with that because I was brought up in the Church of Scotland, which unquestionably has its origins, via Knox, in Calvin’s thinking, and I’ve found most Kirk folk to be pretty down-to-earth and strongly un-PC (certainly there is a more direct link with methodism). Although Scotland is even more plagued with the modern political scourge than most places, it’s not, in general, coming from those people. It really isn’t. On the other hand, there can be no question that PC is strongest in historically protestant countries and you can even see that phenomenon within the United Kingdom, with, as I say, the Scottish political class being more enthusiastic about it than in other parts of Britain.
So this lit a little bulb above my head:
I actually grew up in part as a Calvinist fundamentalist myself during the 1970s … During the late 1980s and early 1990s I was a left-wing Chomskyite and it was during this time that I first began to personally encounter PC. Observing the psychology of PC and its behavioral manifestations up close and in an unadulterated form gave me a sense of déjà vu: “Where I have seen this kind of thing before?”
“This kind of thing”. PC isn’t Calvinism, but it’s the same kind of thing. The phenomenon in its present form undoubtedly stems from the Frankfurt School, and Marxism is about as far from Christianity as you can get, but – and this is the important bit – there seems to be a way of thinking, a mindset, common in Northern European countries that’s conducive to “this kind of thing”. The Jock PC-wallahs aren’t (necessarily) the same people as the Kirk-goers, but 500 years ago they would have been in the front pew lapping up Knox’s sermons (and I imagine today’s Kirk folk would be as dismissive of pure, raw, early Calvinism as they are of PC, since they clearly don’t think that way – in fact I’m sure of it: otherwise they’d join the Free Presbyterians).
In a sense, it’s another example of people who cease to believe in God believing in anything: that controlling, self-hating instinct has to find an outlet, and once the Kirk lost its power it manifested itself in politics. Ironically, for the Politically Correct, it should also be a lesson in the imperfectibility of Man. We have to play the hand we’re dealt, and shuffling the cards won’t change it: get rid of a powerful, oppressive, controlling church, and people who like power, oppressing and controlling others, will simply find another way to do it. And they have.