The Power Of Weaponized Political Correctness

This passage from a 1987 essay by Czech dissident Vaclav Havel gives clues as to why some who grew up under Eastern European communism see its ways emerging again in the contemporary West. Boldface emphases below are mine:

The drastic curtailment of intellectual plurality makes it hard for a person to choose a way to relate to Being, to the world, and to himself. Culture and information controlled from the center narrow the horizon against which people mature. The demand for unquestioning loyalty forces people to become bit players in empty rituals. People cease to be autonomous and self-confident participants in the life of the community and become instruments with which the central agent fulfills itself.

The ever present danger of being punished for any original expression compels one to move cautiously across the quicksand of one’s potential, a pointlessly exhausting process. The network of bureaucratic limitations affects everything from one’s choice of study or profession to the possibility of travel, the limits of admissible creative initiative, right down to the extent and kind of personal ownership, and all of this shrinks the space one has to act in. The total claim of the central power-respecting only those limits it imposes upon itself for practical reasons at a given moment-creates a state of general nervousness: no one is ever sure of the ground he stands on, or what he may venture to do, and what he may not, or what may happen to him if he does.

The sway of this power over the executive authority of the legislature and the judiciary, coupled with the actual omnipotence of the police makes people insecure. The imperious vanity of the administrative apparatus, its anonymity, the extinction of individual responsibility in the faceless pseudo-responsibility of the system (anyone may offer excuses for anything, or be accused of anything, since the will of centralized power recognizes no arbitrator in any dispute with an individual) creates a sensation of helplessness and cripples the will to live one’s own life.

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The American Conservative

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