The Revd R.M.B. West, Dip Th.
The theme of this opening address, for this inaugural National Conference of the Christian Council of Britain, has to be about one of the greatest threats facing our country and people today, that of political correctness. Most people still regard political correctness as something of a joke but Peter Hitchens of the Mail on Sunday, and a member of the Prayer Book Society, has said that it is no joke, at all, but menacing.
I agree. It began in early revolutionary Russia soon after the Bolshevik coup d’etat, of November 1917, when a few Red Guards stormed the residence of the Provisional Government of Kerensky, ousted it, and seized the pilots’ cabin of power in the Russian state. Within a few years they were able to make peace with the Germans, destroy the ‘Whites’, their opponents within Russia, and formally declare the Soviet Union in 1922. From that point on the real suffering began for the Russian, or rather, Soviet Peoples; and a major part of it was the thought and emotional control effected upon ordinary people by neuro-linguistic programming, a method of controlling what people could think, or say, by sequencing verbal stimuli to them, to induce states of mind, and moods of feeling, by association, without the patient, the victim in fact, really being aware of what was happening; which is what made it all the more effective. The Russian name for it was “Politicheskaya pravil’nost” literally, ‘Political Truth’ or ‘Correctness’ as the authorities want you to see it. It was “right thought” or “right belief” as the induced you to image it, not real thought, but real programming. George Orwell referred to it in his 1948 book, 1984, as “double think” and “newspeak.” It has quite a long and frightening history.
In 1918 Trotsky used it to control the Red Army. The Communists needed ex-Tsarist officers to form an army of three million, strong enough to defeat their internal enemies, the Whites. As a precaution, Trotsky attached political Commissars - politically reliable managers - to the army. They became an integral part of the Red army structure. The Commissars were dedicated Party workers whose function it was to accompany officers, permanently, and report on their political correctness. No military order carried final authority unless it was countersigned by a Commissar. [See Michael Lynch, Access to History: Reaction and Revolution: Russia 1881-1924, 2nd ed., p. 119.] Dr Frank Ellis, late of Leeds University, a lecturer in Russian, studied the Leninist origin of politicheskaya pravil’nost in his work Political Correctness and the Theoretical Struggle: From Lenin and Mao to Marcuse and Foucault, [Auckland: Maxim Institute, 2004]. In it he showed that the technical use of the term, as we know it, was current in 1921 [p.5]; that it was a world where the rational mind was viewed with suspicion, even hatred, [p.6] and that it makes serious intellectual thought and discussion impossible [p.12]. It has re-emerged from the Left on United States campuses since the 1980s, according to Alan Bullock, the author of Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, and is the source of anti-free speech rules to stamp out what it deems heresy, re-designated “hate speech”, a category broad and vague enough to effectively harass or discredit minority dissenting views, and encourage self-censorship among the timid majority [See: The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought, London: Harper Collins, 3rd ed., 1999, p. 660.]
Political correctness and the neuro-linguistic programming of the human mind, inner personality, and soul, all go back to the Russian and Soviet scientist, Professor I. P. Pavlov(1849-1936). It is that method of teaching, conditioning, indoctrination, or programming, which has been re-introduced on campus, in the media, and by the publicly-funded leadership charity, Common Purpose. It often involves the intimidation of people under the guise of something sounding good, such as, “promoting equality of opportunities” except that there is usually something corny in it: how do you promote equality of opportunities for example? You can practice equality of opportunity or not but promoting it is something, surely, for sales groups and marketing. Anyway that point is lost on the promoters of politicheskaya pravil’nost,maybe because they see “promoting equality of opportunity” simply as a code-phrase for, “promoting political correctness”; an esoteric code which they are privy too but which we are confounded by, until we break the code. A more modern tag for it - and the tags do change a little, just to keep us off their tail - seems to be “promoting,” there is that give-away word, not “equality of opportunities” but “equality and diversity”. That seems to be the new neuro-linguist cue to put you into correct thought, that is, non-thought and robotic automata mode. Whatever cue is used, however, the aim is always to promote and use the stimulus-response method of teaching or training, really mind-control and indoctrination, under the guise of ‘teaching and learning’ and increasingly under the guise of ‘equal opportunities training’ or ‘equality and diversity training,’ or some other such title or tag which is beginning to bear the smell of humbug about it, even to the most intellectually challenged. Under this method, this process even, to somewhat glorify it, folk are geared, even bullied, under the fear of being reported by their colleagues, into the tramlines of unquestioning and predictable ‘orthodoxy’.
If you do not scrupulously, nay slavishly, bow the knee, the heart, the mind and the soul to these tramlines of circular non-reasoning, you may be denounced or put on a disciplinary hearing affecting your career, contract, or employment; and certainly causing you stress. At once they will try to induce you into a sense of self-guilt rather like being “an heretick” in the middle ages or “an enemy of the people” in the more recent “brotherhood republics,” such as Red China. And the only way to exonerate yourself before such a disciplinary - the modern equivalent of the Inquisition, or the Western counterpart to one of the “peoples’ tribunals” - is to see the error of your ways, to confess your error - that is a great one - to accuse yourself, volunteering for corrective re-training [robotisation?], and to implicate or even denounce others. The Church, the People, the Party, and the Human Resources Department are merciful: you will be spared this once. You hope they will be merciful. And they usually are for they want to encourage conformity, that is the whole point of politicheskaya pravil’nost; but it comes at a price: you lose your freedom of thought; you lose your freedom and thought. Themedia often try to do the same thing.
The media, if you like, are very often the new Peoples’ Inquisition; self-appointed, of course. The radical homosexuals indulge in the same thing. They come at you, bullish, with aggressive questioning which is often question-begging. To one political candidate, last year, they put the loaded question, “ What are you doing to make LGBT people feel safe?” to which the un-co-operative questionee answered, unexpectedly “What are you doing to make the rest of us feel safe”; whereupon the pressure-group threatened him with making a report to the police. But if you do not like the answer, why ask the question? Or why not dutifully supply the requisite answer. But this is typical of our new self-styled liberals; they simply are not liberal and I refuse to call them so. There is nothing liberal, at all, about any group that seeks to lock you up because you have a view that it cannot tolerate. We must be clear where the true liberals are; they are not with the politicheskaya pravil’nost brigade. However, the questionee was not locked-up or even reported to the police; it was all just humbug. But you only found that out, once you had stood up to them.
Political Correctness, which is a permutation of Marxism-Leninism, seeks to condition people to think certain thoughts, and have certain feelings, rather than getting the people to think for themselves. It is a kind of mind-conditioning akin to what goes on in Third World countries such as North Korea. They do this by using Pavlov’s methods of stimuli to effect a conditioned reflex response; that is an unthinking response. Pavlov had done experiments with dogs which were then applied to human beings, that is, to Soviet citizens. Under this approach you use a word, a bell or a sign, or something else, to stimulate a conditioned reflex response which bypasses the thinking processes and achieves the required, behaviour, thought, association or emotional effect or attitude on its recipient or victim. Professor Pavlov had got his dogs to salivate on the ringing of a bell because he had conditioned them to associate the ringing of that bell with the delivery of food at meal time, even when the food was not delivered. Political Correctness is, essentially, the One-Party State and Monopoly-Media method of propaganda in the pejorative sense of that word. George Orwell put it well in his all too true-to-life novel,Animal Farm, when the sheep kept baa-baaing:
“FOUR LEGS GOOD: TWO LEGS BAA…AAD”.
I have an account of a teacher-training session, somewhere in England, where the subject was “differentiation in teaching.” The trainers at this seminar wanted a conditioned reflex response to their PC mantra about the word “differentiation”. That was the training cue that was supposed to inculcate, affirm, and induce all kinds of warm, good and gooey feelings, and things, about some approach to teaching, without anyone actually really knowing, or unpacking, what “differentiation in teaching” really meant. It is quite typical of the PC approach to carry out a medicine-man like ritual dance around the subject without actually getting to tell us, precisely and concisely, what the subject is. They often do it with subjects like “racism”. We get the idea it is a sort of bad thing but never really get to see what it really is. The mere use of the term, “differentiation” was intended to induce all to clap like circus seals rather than to discuss and debate what it really meant and involved in practice. Contrariwise the word “discrimination” is supposed to conjure up all kinds of bad feelings which we are to condemn and sideline. The dutiful trainees were expected to baa-baa back, like sheep,
“DIFFERENTIATION GOOD: DISCRIMINATION BAA…AAD.”
The problem with this PC training exercise, and the reason why it went so badly wrong, was that the trainers had chosen, as opposing cues, two words which have the same denotation. To discriminate [bad] is to differentiate [good]: both mean to recognise a difference or to treat differently. But the trainers, no longer used to using words to convey meaning, as most of us still do, but rather to stimulate an unthinking response - rather like Pavlov’s bells - had not spotted this. I suppose it was a case of the victimiser falling victim to his own victimisation: Pavlov, not his dogs, salivating at his own bells! They had chosen synonyms to induce oppositeconditioned-responses - one good in the case of the word differentiate and the other bad in the case of the word discriminate. Occasionally a refusal to think, for oneself, does have consequences. When one trainee defined the one synonym in terms of the other, some trainees did not know which way to think - the dog-handlers lost control of the kennel; the spell was broken. Hell broke out. That was the best training or conditioning exercise many had been to for a long time. It showed how idiotic, how stupid, and how fallacious neuro-linguistic programming is; and that it should have no part in either teaching or training. And yet it dominates the soft Far-Left globalist and anti-Christian halls of the media, the main death-stream parties, and the top hierarchies of many of our denominations. The question has to be asked, why? The answer has to be found partly in human nature, which is lazy - it is just so easy to follow blindly, untrammelled by thought; and in human paranoia - leaders can be very touchy, and sensitive to any form of questioning of their deeds; which questioning they sometimes, without good grounds, take for disloyalty to them or the cause.
There are many kinds of government, both within and outside of the Church, which just do not like to be questioned; possibly because they are aware that they do not have the answer. This is surely the source of neuro-linguistic programming and of politicheskaya pravil’nost. It has certainly been perfected to a very high degree within Communism and the Far Left, whether the soft or hard variety; it certainly has a long lineage in those quarters going back to George Orwell’s lifetime, and experience, long before he wrote his novel, 1984. But I have picked-up something like it in Church History in the practices and methods of the Holy Inquisition; there, in that very title, we have an earlier example of double think and news speak. But the fact is that politicheskaya pravil’nost is a great danger to our whole way of life. It is a cancer and a tyranny spreading to ever increasing areas of our society and conditioning the young, especially, not to think, and to be frightened of thinking: to behave like trained seals but in a human circus! It is so soul-destroying, illiberal, de-humanising and anti-Christian. God, who has commanded the light to shine into our hearts by the knowledge of God in the face of Christ Jesus commands us to worship Him, with all of our hearts, souls, strength and mind; and not to serve this idol which makes all of us less than human.
But politicheskaya pravil’nost is not simply about inducing conditioned reflex responses, sending us on training or re-training courses, and programming, and robotising us for our role in some hideous “Brave New World.” It is also about stopping us being able to think - and that is perhaps one of its most dangerous aspects. For we must either be a healthy Church and Society where people really do think, because they can think, or we will become some vast and barren thought-free, as well as value-free, wilderness or zone. For it is as sure as night follows day that without good thought, and clear discriminations in our mind, we become less than human and so worse than human. This is the new dark age. Politicheskaya pravil’nost also tries to intimidate us, lest we be tempted to think out our thoughts, openly, and ‘infect’ others, such as our children or grandchildren, with the values and views which prevailed before the thought-curtain, and night, of the double-speak Equality and Human Rights Commissioncame down.