Retreat of Reason
Political correctness & the corruption
of public debate in modern Britain

By Anthony Browne
January 2006
ISBN: 1903386470
108 pages, Illustrated, 5 ½” x 8 ½”
$26.50 Paper Original



It was started with the best of intentions, helping to promote tolerance and combat bigotry. But while political correctness initially had a beneficial effect in protecting the vulnerable, it has now become so dominant and so extreme that it is very damaging to public debate and policy. Political correctness started in academia, but it now dominates schools, hospitals, local authorities, the civil service, the media, companies, the police and the army. For the first time, Britain is now ruled by a government in thrall to PC.

PC suppresses truth to goodness, giving superficially moral arguments primacy over rational ones. But it has graduated from promoting tolerance to promoting intolerance, seeing its opponents not just as wrong, but malign. By silencing its critics, it suppresses the free public debate that is essential to resolving complex policy issues in a fair, equitable and publicly acceptable way. With political correctness trumping factual correctness, governments find it easier to allow emerging problems to fester and grow rather than confront them.

By despising public opinion, PC closes down the safety valves essential for democracy, which in extreme cases – such as the Netherlands – can lead to political and social instability. But the ultimate indictment of political correctness is that it harms those that it aims to help. By teaching the vulnerable that they should blame other for their problems, it often prevents them from addressing aspects of their own behavior that may be responsible for their plight. By corrupting public debate, it prevents the adoption of non-PC policies that may be more effective than PC ones in helping those that need help. If you judge PC by its outcomes rather than its intentions, it is no longer a moral force, but an immoral one.


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