Political Correctness as a Cultural Conflict

Political correctness is a conflict with cultural character. Cultural conflicts are the typical conditions of the society, but it is necessary to research them in the interests of successful social development. If to set the problem of studding political correctness in order to find the ways of safe conflict solution in common interests, first of all it follows to determine the nature of the conflict and its origin motives.

As regards the determination of conflict’s character, the new style of speech is the most important factor here, which points the emergence of a new lifestyle. One might think that political correctness gives enough reasons to consider the style of life not only as the social – psychological category, but rather as culturological and linguistic category.

Political correctness is not formed by social strata of society, ethnic or other groups, but only by those representatives who do not accept the cultural tradition, considering themselves its victims, and form groups on this basis. They protest, in fact, not against the social stereotypes, but against cultural, moral, scientific, educational stereotypes. And owning to this condition blacks and Indians unite together with white feminists, gays, lesbians, people with AIDS, etc., originating from different sectors of society.

They can not be rated among social groups, as social groups are relatively stable, historically formed formation, which can not be said about the coalition of such groups within political correctness. In fact, the matter is that socio-cultural groups emerge as the combination of the social structure of society, on the one hand, and culturally possessory structure of society – on the other one. These considerations also testify in favor of the fact that political correctness should be examined and researched as the generation culture.

Education as a source of a new style

This allows suggesting a hypothesis concerning the causes of political correctness. Each generation master spiritual culture by means of education, furthermore, education is the starting point of creating a new style. It is possible to assume that generation, which has formed a new style in the form of political correctness, has not succeeded quite well in mastering the spiritual culture via education.

If it is so, it is understandable that the reason of failed mastering of spiritual culture lies not in the generation, but in educational system. Therefore, in order to establish the cause of political correctness it is necessary to clarify the didactic and methodical principles of the educational system.

In America there are a lot of debates concerning the ideological content of higher education. But the real problem of modern American higher education consists not in the ideological orientation. It is rooted in the level of education, with which school-leavers come to the institutions of higher education, i.e. in school education. Any American university can not expect that its first-year students can read and write better than purely mechanically. This problem continues its further development in universities, where so-called non-privileged students, mostly black, acquire knowledge strikingly poor in its scopes comparing with the “white” standard.

At the same time a significant role is played by the fact that in America the research work and scientific publications have a high status, and practical educational activities are at incomparably lower level. A growing number of students are forced to search the material for the professors’ works which are going to be published. When the amount of students is great, but the resources are limited, the teaching assistants got involved in lecturers’ work. The similar work belongs to professor’s teaching assistants.

At the end of the 80-s of the XX-th century, the National National Assessment of Education Progress conducted the investigation in the age group from 21 to 25 years. This study showed the following results:

– 40% of white men, 60% of Latin Americans and 75% of Afro-Americans are unable to extract the information from a newspaper. It means that about half of Americans do not have adequate reading skills;

– 56% of white men, 80% of Latin Americans and 92% of Afro-Americans failed to count the change in the restaurant. It means that more than half of Americans do not have adequate arithmetic skills;

– 75% of white men, 93% of Latin Americans and 97% of Afro-Americans did not manage to understand the printed schedule of buses’ traffic Blacks, i.e. such operations with elementary data processing are beyond their powers.

Any university is able to cope with this catastrophic situation. But it is certainly not the pupils’ and students’ fault. This situation must be radically changed.

Some universities decided to choose the way of “positive discrimination”, i.e. the way of reducing the requirements for entering the university. At the end of the 80s, the University of Berkeley decided to take students in proportion to demographic distribution of different population groups in Northern California – blacks, Latin Americans, American Indians, Asian ethnic groups and whites.

It was found that among the applicants for entering the University of Berkeley 3% of blacks, 6% of Indians, 15% of whites and 30% of Americans with Chinese and Japanese origin had passed the selection. The explanation for this lay on the surface: the Chinese and Japanese have grown up in solidary families, with strong family traditions and a habit of constant work from early childhood. The University of Berkeley was again obliged to change the requirements. Later on it was decided that for entering the University blacks had to get 4800 point out of 8000 according to testing system, while the Chinese and Japanese – 7 000 points. When it became known, a lot of protest appeared from the Asian part of population, and these conditions were canceled. In subsequent years the tendency remained and there was no progress in knowledge.

No matter what teachers of colleges and universities did in order to improve comprehensibility of educational material, everything was useless, so that they had to reduce the general level of teaching according to inadequate students’ skills in reading texts, sources processing and analysis of concepts.

The reason for the poor native language is that, since the 60-s, the system of American schooling acquired tolerance as regards to gaps in students’ knowledge. It was believed that the necessity to read a lot and overstrain could supposedly plunge children into the state of stresses. So it was more preferable to reduce the volume of literature, obligatory for reading and this inevitably reduced the level of language proficiency.

This is a very important testimony. A simple calculation allows clarifying the understanding of political correctness causes. Students of the 60s are the young adults the 80s, who have not completely mastered the spiritual culture. Understandably, they can not estimate the cultural heritage, which they do not have, but they feel a certain “insufficiency” of their state, perceiving it as humility, “discrimination”, because they live in a society, most part of which is represented by the elders, who possess spiritual culture.

If this circumstance was a factor in generating a conflict of generations, the appearance of the conflict in the form of political correctness happened, in fact, through mastering of rhetoric and traditional requests of discriminated in America, racial and ethnic groups with spreading on all groups of “victimized” and conflict’s transferring from the social sphere on the level of culture in general.

After the example of America and Germany, it is obvious that one of the purposes of political correctness is the multiplication of not only the numbers but also the diversity of phobias. At the same time it is very difficult to deal with phobias, as the German experience testifies: whether to struggle with them or to be afraid of theme?

However, one thing is clear ”“ the direction of defender’s struggle is indicated.

– In America political correctness fights against Western culture, therefore, against Westerners, i.e. traditionalists;

– Politically correct human rights defenders in Russia intend to struggle with anti-Westerners, i.e. traditionalists;

– In Germany political correctness fights with those, who is defend the “German”, i.e. with traditionalists;

– Political correctness struggles everywhere with religion, that is tradition.

Of course, each of these three countries has its own pecularities, its historical basis and its own historical Achilles’ heel:

– In America – the genocide of Indians and slavery;

– In Russia ”“ “undemocracy” in its history, explained by “non-westerness”;

– In Germany – fascism and the Second World War.

Therefore, in every country along with general directions of goals there are own peculiarities of the seat of war of political correctness, own image of the enemy and own “script text”.

The culture of each of these three countries has its own features, but the cultural tradition itself is common for them, the European cultural tradition. It is impossible to wage a struggle with the European cultural tradition, leaving aside the Christianity, because namely Christianity is the basis of all Western culture.

For this reason, Christianity is strategically important height in the political correctness fight against European cultural tradition. That is why it appears that religious phobia exists, from the point of political correctness, only among Christians. Otherwise it is impossible to explain the apparent selectivity: the Christian texts and symbols are mostly removed in public schools by order of politically correct representatives in Christian America. From considerations of political correctness public schools crucifixes are removed from the classrooms in public schools of Christian Bavaria in order not to offend Muslims. However, the decision to remove the symbols of Islam from public schools in Christian France causes the indignation storm of political correctness.

A lot of authors, who write about the “new culture” in America, use the expression “cultural war”, referring to the actions of political correctness. Hopefully, they exaggerate, that it is a cultural conflict of generations. At the same time, the nature of political correctness is obvious, the main display of which is the struggle with the European cultural tradition in general. It qualifies political correctness as anti-culture, or counterculture. Political correctness identifies itself in the same way stating openly that it opposes the majority, acting in the interests of minorities.

This conclusion is confirmed by the estimation of current situation in America. The new generation appeared. For them Cultural Revolution was not the revolution at all, and that was the culture from their birth. Homosexuality, pornography, vulgar swearing on TV and in movies, swearing in the lyrics – all that surrounded them from the cradles. It is not surprising that many members of this generation are in complete confidence that old America has been the center of evil. Traditional culture is incomprehensible for them.

It is possible to suppose that the deficiency of the educational system has the reasons, which in the fact now political correctness is trying to change the whole paradigm of culture, although in all probability, this development can not be reduced to a single background. But, there can also be no doubt that education and upbringing in general education play a tremendous role as a means of prevent cultural conflicts.

This concerns, in particular, the conflict of generations.

The scientific basis for dialogue with political correctness

   All the questions arising in connection with political correctness require a scientific study, the results of which can be used as arguments in a dialogue with political correctness. Here, however, it should be noted that the society will have to make significant efforts to organize such a dialogue, because so far, such attempts have failed.

Meanwhile, it is clear that the dialogue is necessary, because the resolution of conflicts and contradictions depends mainly on how farseeingly and skillfully the moral judgments will be used in overcoming conflicts and contradictions with the help of verbal means and with the help of verbal communications’ managing. Political correctness, which represents the culture of generations, should be attributed to everlasting source of differences, which are caused by culture, the structure of society from the viewpoint of culture and style aspirations of cultural classes and which become the reason of conflicts and contradictions demanding the solution in the interests of society and culture.

The elementary unit of social control is the dialogue, which in terms of mass communication becomes the basis of modern rhetoric. General laws of dialogue include types of speech, breadth of the audience and quality of the audience. Along with general laws of the dialogue there are rules for dialogue conduction so called rules of debates.

Ethos of dialogues, i.e. condition of dialogue, is represented in rhetoric by three categories: dialectics, eristic and sophistry. Dialectic is a condition for dialogue, in which the sides agree to seek jointly the truth and act in the common interests. Eristic is a condition for dialogue in which all sides seek only the personal benefit. Sophistry is a condition for dialogue, in which the sides use the dialectical arguments but have in mind their own benefit.

According to pathos, i.e. goals of debates and its organization there are 12 kinds of dialogue, which include, for example, family dialogue, authoritative, judicial, administrative, educational, scientific, business and others.

Logos, i.e. verbal means, in dialogues  is represented by common means: private, emerging in the form of persuasion in small groups, professional – for example, initial condition of science, and generalized-personal, represented by common knowledge which is not criticized (this includes morality ). Science and morality have the greatest significance from the point of the cultural meaningfulness.

Examining political correctness, it is evident that it resorts mostly eristic and partly to sophistry, defending the rights of victimized groups and having notified its enemy represented by the majority of the society. Eristic and sophistry, reflecting the interests of separate individuals and groups face in the form of monologues that make up different dialogs. These clashes of eristic dialogues can be called the speech competition.” The fact that political correctness avoids the debate with society, preferring the monologue means the abolition of the speech competition and monopolization of verbal social control.

At the same time speech competition can not and should not be annulled. Speech competition is a manifestation of different interests in politics, economy, science and religion. The societies where speech competition had been softened experienced stagnation. When the dialogue is needed as it is not always possible to avoid the speech competition, political correctness agrees only to eristic dialogue.

This means that there is a question about preservation of culture in general and non-violation of the laws of cultural development, in particular, which relates to the field of scientific Cultural Sciences, Linguistics and General Philology.

It follows from this that in the interests of culture there must a scientific dialogue between political correctness and society. The ethos of scientific dialogue is the dialectic as a condition for searching the truth and action in common mutual interests. But there are no absolute truths for dialectic, but political correctness takes the opposite position with fundamentalist coloring: the opinion of the group is the truth of ultimate instance. And this, in turn, means that political correctness agrees to make a dialogue with the use of eristic, as it tends to personal benefits of the coalition members – not to feel aggrieved.

There is only one kind of literature, in which the ethos of dialogue is exceptionally eristic. This is judicial dialogue. Because political correctness does not leave a choice for the society, so it makes him agree to a judicial dialogue and defend solely their own benefit, i.e. the benefit of the majority.

At the same time, if to remember that the history of relations between various groups with no doubt it is colored with humiliation and slandering sayings, and abuse, and oppression, and even slavery, it becomes more evident the need for transition from eristic to dialectic as a way of solving disputes in common interest.

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