Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Political Correctness and Ritual Purification
Purification has been a constant in the worst 20th century totalitarian crimes, such as gulags, mass murders, and ethnic cleansing. Totalitarian, socialist movements, which aim to supplant religion with belief in the socialist state, reinvent purification rituals and infuse them with violence and intolerance.
Religious purification rituals are, in today's world, mostly not coercive. In the Jewish faith, the ritual bath or mikveh is used by men and women in association with sexual relations and childbirth and as part of the conversion process. The tradition was adopted by Christianity in the ritual of baptism. All religions have processes and rituals of purification, to include the separation of men and women and dietary rules such as kashrut and halal. In Catholicism there are seven sacraments, and several Protestant faiths believe in the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit.
The impulse toward purification is ingrained in the human psyche, and it may have arisen because of tribal relations, both in terms of acceptance of new members and exclusion of those who violate tribal norms. It is difficult to know whether such patterns are instinctive or cultural. In either case purification is common to most cultures, but the left in its interest in radical transformation of society has put greater and more violent emphasis on purification than ever before.
The nineteenth century saw a rejection of religious faith and an invention of newly violent and punitive varieties of purification. The French Revolution saw the Reign of Terror, in which supporters of the Catholic Church and the monarchy were guillotined. Marx believed that society needed to be purified of capitalists and exploitation and that the purest, most sacred form of economic relation was that of the industrial working class or proletariat managed by its own dictatorship. Wilhelm Marr, the left-wing, German founder of the Anti-Semitic League--and creator of the term "antisemitism"--saw purification as the elimination of Jews. The American eugenicists, who were an important if not dominant element in the Progressive movement, saw purification as the improvement of the genetic stock. Hitler and the Nazis carried forward these left-wing purification faiths.
The concept of purification among left-wing activists has evolved into an even more totalitarian doctrine of political correctness. From a faith in industrialization and proletarian work, through the efforts of Frantz Fanon and 1960s activists, who substituted race for class in their analyses, the left became a movement of identity rather than class politics. Purification became political correctness, the belief that any who oppose the agenda of left-wing identity politics, including those who believe in Christianity, those who oppose government-enforced equality agendas, and those who tell off-color jokes, must be cleansed.
The purification rituals of the American left target Republicans, classical liberals, Christians, and supporters of the Second Amendment, all of whom are banished by media, school district and university committees of public safety.
In the media, the telling of off-color jokes is grounds for immediate banishment. Much as Increase Mather and his followers burned witches to purify their community, so does ABC Television fire comedians for political incorrectness. Some forms of sexual deviance, those forms allied with the American left-wing committees of public safety, are hallowed and pure. Other forms of sexual deviance, which are not so allied, are impure.