Thursday, January 21, 2016

Americanized Maoism, the “Narrative” of Political Correctness, and Racist Minimum Wage Legislation

Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal has referred to our current political correctness madness as “a kind of Americanized Maoism.” This is an interesting characterization.*

China did not have a proletariat of factory workers, so Mao chose peasants as the oppressed class we should worship and model our lives on and, of course, protect from the evil capitalists.

Today’s American leftists certainly would not seem to mind having us all wear Mao tunics, nor would they mind reducing our standard of living to the level of Mao’s peasants.

Note a few of the consumer products that have been banned by those who know what is best for us: phosphates in laundry and dish detergents, high-flow water valves, incandescent light bulbs, plastic shopping bags, and the vent hole in the lowly gasoline can.

Jeffrey Tucker (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) has examined a number of these civilization killers. On the light bulb ban, he writes, “It’s the plot of [Ayn Rand’s] Anthem lived in real time.”

The gasoline can? Apparently, wealthy leftists have never had to mow their own lawns and don’t care to remember their elementary physics. That second hole makes it easy and spillage-free to pour gas into the mower’s tank. Tucker’s conclusion: the bureaucrats in power want us to reduce our lives to the misery of pre-capitalist eras.

The Americanized part of “Americanized Maoism,” however, is just another import from Europe. It is the post-modern rejection of Enlightenment values and establishment of what I referred to in a previous post as a virulent absolutism in an age of epistemological and moral relativism. (Some terms were borrowed from Stephen Hicks. See 1, 2.)

This is what has given us the word “narrative.” When challenging the left, the dismissive response will often be, “That’s only your narrative.” Which is another way of saying what’s true for you is not necessarily true for me. And it’s also Marx’s polylogism dressed up in new garb.

So why should we listen to the left? The unspoken and sometimes not so unspoken reply is, “We have the power. You don’t. Our narrative is in charge.”

One current “narrative” taken as a given is that opposition to minimum wage is racist. Fortunately, a recent column by Professor Williams has taught us an important history lesson about who really is the racist.

The 1931 origin and design of minimum wage legislation was to prevent African Americans from getting work. Nearly every economist in the United States knows minimum wage laws prevent the least skilled—mostly African Americans at that time, and still today—from being hired. Similar motivation operated in South Africa’s 1925 Apartheid legislation to prevent the hiring of “Natives.”

The true racists are the advocates of minimum wage, and since capitalism is the cure for racism, anyone who opposes free markets should be labelled haters of the minority disadvantaged and oppressed.

Trigger warning for the poor babies on college campuses:

The left has it wrong.

Capitalism—free markets and free speech—are what you should be studying and supporting. It’s time to get your feelings hurt. You might learn something in the process.

*Henninger also argues that the popularity of certain “outsiders” in the 2016 Republican presidential circus is a revolt of the politically incorrect, meaning that Americans, probably through their “you can’t push me around” sense of life, are sick of being badgered by the left and told what to think, feel, and do.

A Note on Correctness. The term usually means free from error, accurate, or precise, but in the pejorative sense in which the word is used today, it means conformity to an orthodoxy with deviation calling for punishment.

Penalties for failure to conform range from expressions of disapproval, shock, contempt, and condemnation to the more serious excommunication, expulsion, or termination to the ultimate of imprisonment, and death.

Today’s radical Marxist left—in the form of political correctness—is not unique in insisting on such conformity.

Just ask Socrates about Athenian correctness in the fifth century BC or Galileo about the Inquisition’s Catholic correctness in 1633.

Throughout history, religious, ideological, and intellectual movements have produced their share of correctness zealots. Christian and Islamic correctness, as in “radical Christianity” and “radical Islam,” are not inappropriate designations.

Nor is Freudian correctness. See Jeffrey Masson on his expulsion from the Freud Archives and other psychoanalytic societies over his view of Freud’s seduction theory.

The motivation for correctness zealotry is intolerance of difference, especially as manifested in language and behavior that deviates from the orthodoxy. The goal is control, initially censorship of language but in the end total control of thought and behavior.

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