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29 March 2012

Soviet Britain #1: David Cameron’s “supper in the kitchen”

A friend writes worryingly from Moffat, the attractive town in the Scottish borders where Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh (later Lord) Dowding was born. Dowding was the architect of victory in the Battle of Britain, a fact worth mentioning here because my friend's email reminds me that there is another battle of Britain in progress at the moment. It is a kind of civil war which is being waged by those who want to improve life against those who, though they would undoubtedly wish to make things better if they could, consider that life cannot be improved in any broad sense and therefore feel it ought to be allowed to flourish as it will (subject to conventional social and civil controls, of course).
     The improvers, if I may call them that, are under the psychological sway of the American political correctness movement. They wish to compel people to think, act and communicate in ways which conform to a vision of a society that is guilt-free in the extreme Protestant sense of the word. These Americans (and there are many who are not like this) are so embarrassed at their own society's historic sins, like slavery (re: blacks, or African-Americans) and genocide (re: Indians, or Native Americans), that they want to force the rest of the world to behave as they now think they should have behaved in the past. This form of moral egotism is very dangerous.
     It is as dangerous—and for similar reasons—as Marxism-Leninism was. One of the joys of living amongst educated Russians today is that so many of them have rejected so completely the ideals of Marxism-Leninism that they look on the political correctness movement in the West with a mixture of horror and amusement. But the movement is alive and kicking in large parts of American society and also in Britain, Australia, South Africa etc. The point of mentioning it here is not to start a political debate, which is outside the scope of this blog, but to warn Russians who travel to savage parts that they will encounter coded language and linguistic pitfalls which they might not be expecting. Beware the PC brigade!
     My friend’s letter give some excellent illustrations of this. She wrote:
“There is a language-based furore largely centred around Francis Maude [a Conservative Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister] who has betrayed his (and, it is held, the current cabinet’s) ‘poshness’ and overlapping ‘old-fashioned-ness’ (i.e. ‘out of touch-ness’). He suggested yesterday that people might provide for a possible strike of petrol-tanker delivery drivers by having ‘a jerrycan of petrol in the garage’. A jerrycan is apparently considered an antiquated article, presumably because made of metal and associated vaguely with WWII; it holds 20 litres and the fire service has immediately condemned the suggestion as being a fire risk and illegal. Maude is also condemned for referring to ‘supper in the kitchen’ in connection with the fund-raising scandal, where David Cameron invited major donors to intimate meals at his flat ‘above the shop’ at 10 Downing St. On BBC Radio 4 this morning, Conservative commentator Tim Montgomerie pointed out that ‘supper in the kitchen’ is a class-based concept because it implies a cosy contrast to ‘dinner in the dining room’ (one’s usual arrangement).”
     My own view about political correctness is that it is a blasphemy since it assumes that, if carried on long enough, it will in theory create a perfect world without any assistance from the Man Upstairs. Man is God.
     But I should not say that. To mention “the Man Upstairs” is PC offence because it is genderist. The fact that it is said as a light jest is no defence. The Taliban famously shot three teenage boys for laughing at them. The PC brigade are of the same mind—like Hitler, Stalin and all the other tyrants who have tried to improve the world by force. Not one of them was the sort of person that one might have considered inviting to supper in the kitchen, like the dreadful, priggish Mr Montogomerie who, incidentally, started the Conservative Christian Fellowship, with support from the Christian Coalition of America, an extreme Protestant organisation whose fundamentalist, evangelical nature rather makes my point for me. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for interesting point. I would never link PC and Marxism-Leninism. I would say Marxism is a kind of philosophical and social theory, PC is an another term for hypocrisy. In multicultural country PC should make co-existence easier. Marx was concerned about completely different problem.

    Could you please explain why it is dangerous in the same way?

    Thank you,