Politically Correct

The phrase “politically correct” betrays a refusal to accept that some people are genuinely progressive.

I was reading an article about how extremists on both sides of the fence in the War on Terror, with neo-nazis on one side and terrorists on the other, hate the gray areas, or the colorful middle, if you will. They both want to eradicate societies of mixed backgrounds.

If you’re an extremist, or, let’s be accurate, a fascist, you want purity in a society, and you can’t wrap your head around pluralists. You hear their words, and they fail to convince you, so you develop a theory that, deep inside, they feel the same way you do, and are just faking it to score popularity points.

I saw a video talk between two electrical engineers, and one of them said “Don’t you think everyone should have a bit of knowledge about engineering and science? Isn’t all this ignorance bad?” and the other guy said “I used to believe that, but I have a daughter, and even though she got straight A’s in math, she tells me she just can’t get her head around it, because she’s not wired that way. She had just memorized every possible answer for the tests.”

There are a lot of people who don’t believe that humans are “wired” for certain things. This lends power to the idea that “You can do anything / become anyone you want.” In a cruel twist of irony, those who want to control people take that notion and turn it into “We can change them into anything we want!”

I happen to think that one of the fundamental ways in which people come prewired is in their predilection for fascism versus pluralism. In any society, there are going to be people who insist on one or the other. The fascists will tend toward conservatism, while the pluralists will tend towards progressiveness.

Now, I’ve talked to people of all political convictions, and the the thing they all have in common is a refusal to accept that some people are bound to differ. There is a refusal to accept that fundamental differences in how our brains are wired lay at the core of the human condition. They believe that the way we’re wired doesn’t touch on political conviction, and that any person can, in principle, be convinced of anything.

I happen to think that this is wrong.

Humans like to think that they’re rational beings, especially when it comes to something so lofty as politics. But ask yourself: What prompts you to think and act in the first place? More specifically, what motivates you? If you take an objective look at yourself, you’ll find that, more often than not, your thoughts and actions are prompted by some emotion or feeling. Maybe not directly, but if you start asking yourself “Why?” repeatedly about everything you do and think, the arrows always point back to some urge, desire, fear or resentment.

Feelings are the fuel of humanity.

And how often have you not carried out some action, or had a thought, only to find yourself in a mild panic if you’re later prompted to come up with a justification for said action or thought? This process is called rationalization, and we are all experts at it. Rationalization, the process of finding explanations for how we feel, think and act, is a finely tuned skill for most of us, to such a degree that we don’t even notice that we’re doing it.

Politics is a glorified game of rationalization. We all “just feel that way”, and when prompted to explain why, we refer to our political convictions. It follows then, that, deep down, we vote with our emotions. We may be able to moderate and suppress our emotions, but we can’t stop them from occurring in the first place.

From this, you might infer that I’m not a big believer in free will, and you’d be correct. I think our thoughts and actions stem from our circumstances, whether they be genetic (nature) or environmental (nurture), to a far greater degree than most of us are willing to admit. We like to think that our minds are mysterious. Have you ever had someone see right through you, only to deny the truth because you’re so embarrassed about being found out? Me too.

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