I’m glad to be back addressing the H.L. Mencken Club.
Richard Spencer has asked me to speak on the topic “Can HBD Trump PC?” So let me begin by explaining what those acronyms mean.
PC stands for “Political Correctness”. HBD is short for “Human Biodiversity”.
In an intellectually healthy world, of course, the study of “human biodiversity” wouldn’t be imperiled by the reign of Political Correctness. Instead, HBD would be recognized as a necessary complement to the study of human cultural diversity. To a student of the social world, human biodiversity and human cultural diversity ought to be complementary tools, like a straight right and a left jab are to a boxer, or like words and numbers are to a thinker.
In 21st Century America, however, noticing reality is often, by unfortunate necessity, a political act. As George Orwell pointed out, “To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle”.
Should HBD be a field of study … or a political movement … or both?
Let’s consider the term “Political Correctness” first. This is an old New Left phrase. I first recall hearing it about 30 years ago in an interview with Joe Strummer of The Clash, in which the punk rock star lamented how stultifying the demands of Political Correctness were even for a lifelong leftist like himself. (Despite Joe’s Old Left proletarian façade, Strummer’s father, a British diplomat and secret agent, had been a close friend of Kim Philby.)
We’re often told that Political Correctness is a trivial matter of using the latest name for minority groups, but I always do that. That’s less Political Correctness than politeness.
No, PC is vastly more far-reaching. It enervates American intellectual discourse on many levels.
As John Derbyshire noted last night [in a speech on "Men Versus the Man, 100 Years On"], the best depiction of how Political Correctness functions is from the appendix to George Orwell’s 1984:“Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments …, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.”
What Orwell got wrong, though, is that inculcating crimestop doesn’t require an army of men watching you from your TV.
Instead, you watch your TV—and learn from it what kind of thoughts raise your status and what kind lower your status.
It’s a system of Status Climbing through Stupidity.
Every so often, a celebrity is fired to encourage the others: NPR dumped Juan Williams this week for admitting that passengers in Muslim garb on airplanes make him nervous. Earlier this month blowhard Rick Sanchez was sacked by CNN for responding sarcastically to his interviewer’s suggestion that Jews are an oppressed minority in the media. (As one wag commented, Sanchez got fired for the first story he ever got right.)
October 27, 2010
From VDARE, here's the opening of my speech last weekend to the H.L. Mencken Club in Baltimore, in which I try to do a quick summing up of my epistemological approach:
Read the whole thing here and comment upon it below.