The Weeping Juggernaut is my description of the phenomenon that used to be called “political correctness” – and that we are now struggling to rename.
The PC label seemed adequate while the phenomenon’s most noticeable characteristics were preciousness, petulance and pettiness. Before it became apparent that it is truly dangerous.
A movement that essentially consisted of a cry of grievance has taken over our culture – by a power grab that I suspect will keep interested commentators fascinated for some considerable time.
Neither the Peace Movement nor 2nd wave feminism took over back in the 70s: they were very successful in their specific arenas, but that’s as far as it went. By contrast, the Weeping Juggernaut has taken over vital institutions – much of academia, most (it seems) mass media (largely via Journalism schools, I suspect), the education system and government bureaucracy generally (regardless of who occupied the Beehive), not to mention a large portion of the Church and organised atheism/humanism.
“Political correctness” is far too feeble a term to describe this cultural coup.
As far as I can tell, all this was made possible by the convergence of a number of factors:
- real grievance and hurt
- the exploitation of that real grievance and hurt: weaponised and not treated
- further grievance and hurt confected or exaggerated
- trimming down of victim groups to a manageable (and favoured) level – replacing justice with “diversity”
- stealth: basically, we just didn’t see them coming because they were concealed behind the victim groups they claimed to champion
- guilt and compassion: even once we noticed what they were up to, we were inhibited from reacting by guilt and by compassion for those victim groups
- the divisive effect of identity politics – women against men, colour against white etc – “Divide and conquer” never had it so good
- a confused morality: subjective when defending, objective when attacking; based entirely on cause-and-effect
- control of public discourse: prohibited opinions, mandatory opinions, distortion of language, frank suppression of free speech to block dissent
- aggression of public discourse: demonisation of those who hold prohibited opinions and veneration of those who hold mandatory opinions
- replacement of reason with emotion
- replacement of argument with ad hominem attack
- some philosophy: repurposed Marxism plus caprice facilitated by post-modernism
- public media: seemingly saturated with the new dogma
- social media: its empowering effect, its creation of echo chambers (enhanced by other tech, like mobiles and headphones) and its toxification of discussion
- education – tertiary and secondary and, increasingly, primary – producing hordes of like-minded young people
- government – public service saturated with new dogma over time, regardless of who is in office – accelerated when Left-leaning govt is in office and can make law
- the phenomenon’s lack of structure: Who do you get in touch with?
I’ll endeavour to write something about most of these, although I trust that several are fairly self-explanatory. Already, see “This is who I am” (for #7) and “Oh, the emotion!” (for #11).
I suppose #19 is time: this phenomenon has been brewing for decades. It takes time to take over educational institutions. Once that happened, though, and once the media was enlisted, the juggernaut has quickly grown in size and agility.
Because I’ve opted for the drama of a “juggernaut”, I feel obliged to suggest a mental image. For example, one of those huge WWI trench tanks, like the one in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Not suitable – big, but not big enough to even metaphorically threaten a community. I then considered the enormous vehicles used by the Jawa scavengers on Star Wars’ Tatooine. Much bigger, but arguably too slow and unwieldy to appear dangerous. So I turned to the mortal engine “London” in Peter Jackson’s Mortal Engines. City-sized, manoeuvrable and fast (though it can creep along stealthily if it wants to) and it consumes what it doesn’t crush.
I’m torn between “London” and the Jawa vehicle. The Jawa vehicles look lumbering and innocuous, but they’re actually very large up close and impossible to evade once they’re close enough. Also, they’re opaque: you can see who’s on board “London” but the occupants of a Jawa vehicle are invisible. And seeming innocuous is critical.
Usually, when you see a juggernaut, you flee; when it pursues you, you flee as fast as you can; and, as it rolls over you, you feel terror, pain and resentment. (This is supposition, of course, as I’ve never been pursued and killed by a physical juggernaut.)
The Weeping Juggernaut emits a sound that lures you and misdirects your attention. Most of us are drawn to the sound of pain if it doesn’t seem dangerous. We can’t all be counted on to help, but we’re usually curious to see what’s up and whether helping will be easy or difficult.
When the Weeping Juggernaut is pursuing you, your flight is inhibited by a desire to turn around and investigate the weeping. And, as it rolls over you, the terror and pain are real but the resentment, blocked by confusion as the weeping continues, doesn’t kick in until you’ve joined the dots (as you are now hyper-aware and thinking very fast) and seen the depth of the trickery involved.
You die still unsure whether the weeping is real.
It is, and it isn’t. Much of the weeping is the sound of real historical hurt – recorded and amplified. Much of it is that of fellow travellers of victims – extremely empathic but not very thoughtful. More is produced by paid actors who can weep on cue. There may even be some genuine victims on board – people whose hurt is current and, instead of being treated, is kept raw and fresh. The drivers and crew of the juggernaut are not weeping: their focus is not on the juggernaut’s cargo (other than making sure the sound system is working) but on what the juggernaut can do in the world it’s rolling over.
I wish this construct of the Weeping Juggernaut was as fanciful as it sounds. However, what is happening in New Zealand and much of the West is so strange that I need this kind of imagery to help me understand it.