The Left, Political Correctness and Cult Behavior
For leftists, the quest for power is about more than politics.
Michael Savage famously said that liberalism is a mental disorder. I think it is more precise to say that liberalism is a cult. Isolation, threats and routine shaming all serve to silence cult members who cross them, exactly as happens with political correctness. The dreaded label of racist or bigot chills most opposition. Those closest to you will ostracize you for expressing an incorrect view, exactly as in a cult. Eventually, the inclination is to censor what you not only say but what you think. Most people upon being intimidated will rein in their perceptions and even their curiosity because the pain of social isolation is so terrifying. And as in a cult, there is a reflexive herd effect in which an almost unanimous consensus sees the offender as crazy or beyond the pale. It is far easier to create a new world in a void created by the silence of political correctness.
I heard David Horowitz state recently that political correctness serves to bring conformity, a lockstep in behavior. While that is clearly true, my belief is that conformity is a symptom and the disease is far more insidious. I think the primary purpose of political correctness is to corrupt character. When I read Solzhenitsyn, one of the most chilling aspects of the gulag was the practice of forcing someone to agree with behavior that the targeted person knew was wrong. Self awareness of participating in a lie would cause that individual to feel compromised morally and to therefore lose the will to resist. For me, this is evil at its essence – a human being submits to self betrayal and can no longer feel worthy to fight back.
I believe Democrats, being ruthless on issues of winning or losing, see nothing wrong with this. This helps to explain why they so effectively stick together among themselves. Their lockstep becomes not merely practical gains that come with greater numbers but also embodies an ideal of defeating an enemy that stands in the way of a perfect society.
There are undoubtedly other tactical benefits of political correctness for liberals. If for example, a large number of the population actually could be persuaded that offending Muslims is evil, it would tend to make it almost impossible to make a moral stand against indiscriminate entry by Muslims into our country.
One of the fundamental reasons that liberalism is so confounding for conservatives to understand or explain is that there is not one simple explanation. There seems to be four basic psycho-emotional types (with some overlap) that are drawn to liberalism as well as towards cults. I offer these descriptions in ascending order of destructiveness.
First, the most benign group falls into what I think of as “do-gooders.” I acknowledge that many liberals are kind. I know many of them and although I accept that some genuinely want to help the less fortunate, a large number of them just want to feel needed. While that is not a sin, it can be destructive if they undermine the ability of the less fortunate to actually solve their own problems. While the intentions of these people may be good, the fascinating aspect of this evil is that often it is not about what liberals intend but about what they are willing to ignore. They certainly, for example, don’t approve of female genital mutilation or persecution of gays; they are just willing to overlook such atrocities if the payoff involves damage or discomfort to political opponents.
The second grouping in cults as well as liberalism consists of individuals with psychological issues ranging from neuroses to more destructive dysfunctions. The adherents in this group seek a sense of purpose or mission. They may do this to mask or distract from the pain of their struggles. They may be seeking acceptance or a sense of belonging that eases their emotional burdens. They may even believe they will find a cure for personal problems. They are struggling for meaning in their lives and hopefully elicit sympathy, not hatred.
The third demographic group consists of high achievers, often with impressive, elite educations. These people, whether liberals or classic cultists, thrive on adulation. In their fantasy world of top-down control these liberals never envision themselves as the ones being controlled. They are generally consumed by their own moral superiority to the point of single mindedness. These are the ones most likely to resort to name calling and intolerance, often after pointing out how judgmental anyone is who disagrees with them. They view themselves as heroes fighting the good fight against the forces of darkness. Noble warriors that they are, they permit themselves to viciously attack others and especially to lie about others for their righteous cause. The willingness of people to advance falsehoods has increased exponentially since my childhood. I have noticed that if a liberal’s agenda is advanced, their stature increases within their group even if they are not truthful. I remember when people would be reluctant to state a lie because their reputation would be ruined. In that sense political correctness is also a war against accountability.
The fourth and final group consists of the leaders. Cult leaders and leaders in liberal politics simply are about “more”; specifically more power and more control. The reason they can never be cornered into naming a specific end point for their objective (such as exactly what tax rate would be sufficiently high enough) is because the process is the prize for them and therefore the process must never stop. The leaders are enriched and empowered by the ongoing battle. Interestingly, they hold themselves immune from the standards they wish to impose on everyone else. Just as cult leaders exempt themselves from the austerity imposed upon their followers, liberal leaders exempt themselves from the demands made upon everyone else. Michael Moore portrays himself as champion of the working man and then hires non-union labor to save money in making his movies. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. campaigns zealously for wind and solar power and then just as zealously campaigns to stop a wind farm six miles off Martha’s Vineyard that will impact his ocean view. Al Gore lectures others to stop driving automobiles and start riding bicycles while utilizing private jets for his personal transportation. Ultimately, those in this group often reveal themselves as petty or greedy or uncivil. One would think the dissonance provoked in their followers would cause resentment but the ability to utilize political correctness to intimidate and silence others with implied threats of ostracism from the group is very powerful.
Political correctness is a tool for liberals to arrest debate, questioning and criticism. Political correctness is seductive since it grants the most power to those perceived as the weakest victims. It reinforces the primacy of self pity since the “wronged” person gets to shut down disagreement. Ultimately, political correctness grants people the right to no longer engage or to follow rules. Cults often attempt through brainwashing to revamp human nature. Liberal intellectuals attempt exactly that with political correctness.