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POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND TRUTH

Diário de Notícias, 11.06.2021.

 

Much like the counterintuitive order of the words in this very title - political correctness ahead of the truth implies that politics has an advantage even over scientific truth.

This further means that a lie can take precedent over the truth. The only difference of its manifestation in the 21st century compared to the past centuries is that they used to burn scientists at the stake, in the 19th and 20th centuries "only" their books, while today everyone who speaks truth that does not fit into political fiction can be slandered,
even scientists can be disqualified simply by branding them “politically incorrect”. It is even sadder that today it is possible to publicly condemn historical figures with complete ignorance and disregard of the facts and historic context of the times in which they lived. Such non-historical interpretations will always produce wrong conclusions.
 
The problem of the relationship between political correctness and the truth is more complex. Namely, political correctness is an inseparable part of the ruling ideology, in fact it is its essential product, so that when we speak of its relation to the truth, we speak of the relation of ideology and the truth.

When this is pointed out, things become more clear, because ideology has a decisive part over the truth: the ruling ideology is protected by the legal order, primarily criminal and administrative penalties, as well as civil sanctions. Claims by officials of ruling political parties, media (TV and radio broadcasters with national frequencies, the highest-circulation dailies and weeklies), favored "intellectuals", "scientific gatherings", "round tables", etc. All this, in turn, forms a ruling public opinion, and it inevitably creates self-censorship, as the most effective and most sophisticated form of informal censorship. Not succumbing to it is certainly not easy. This requires, not infrequently, the courage of Socrates, sometimes even Christ himself. Truth, and thus justice, is accomplished through the sacrifice to which the righteous are ready. The greater the ideological interest (e.g. geopolitical), the greater the sacrifice required. That is why restitution and rehabilitation are important legal and ethical in institutions, which must be included in basic human rights.
 
Thus, in the relationship between ideology and truth, it is clear that ideology prevails, in other words, political correctness and vice versa: the truth, and justice directly related to it, do not win. On the contrary, they lose. That is why the rule in historical science is that historical (temporal) distance is necessary for establishing historical truth. It is understood that in autocratic regimes the historical distance lasts a long time, moreover the calculation of the deadline cannot begin before the introduction of the democratic system. However, historical experience shows that in some democratic states, especially when it comes to great powers with pronounced geopolitical interests, this deadline can be also very long, sometimes similar to that which is characteristic of non-democratic states.
 
“No age is suitable for people who prefer to think for themselves than to sing with a choir of conformists”… “If someone sees reality as it is, and can not refrain from describing it, it is considered an assassination of the established order” said academician Jean Gwenael Dutourd at the open session of the French Academy on December 5, 1996. On that occasion, he delivered by now his famous speech “scandale de la vertu” and he cited the example when the French National Committee of Writers, after World War II, imposed a ban on publishing a single line written by those writers who, in their opinion, showed a certain affection for the regime of Vichy or did not sufficiently avoid associating with the German occupier and, at the same time, he pointed out: "I foresaw the maneuver of mediocre writers to remove the competition of talented people from bookstores, at least temporarily". By the way, Dutourd was delighted with the ring of academician Prosper Merimee, on which were engraved Epicharm's words - Don't forget to be distrustful, which is a concise version of his main message: "Be sober and learn to doubt, because it is the backbone of the spirit". By the way, Merimee enjoyed writing about Serbian folk tales, customs and songs.
 
Only great individuals, then and now, allowed themselves not to be part of the choir of conformists. Luís de Camões saw the original version (from 1572) of the most important Portuguese epic, “Os Lusíadas”, being subject to changes in 1584, after evaluation by the Inquisition, while in the last century Canto IX was eliminated from the school curriculum.One such example today is provided by Nobel laureate Peter Handtke, who had to be an incomparably better writer than all his competitors in order to be awarded, despite the choir of conformists. To make the absurd even greater, those who attacked him the loudest, appear to have not read a single line of his.
 
That is why the sound of the choir of modern civilization leaves the impression that it is conducted by Niccolo Machiavelli. In contrast, the harmony that we can only hear from individual solo singers leaves an irresistible impression of being conducted by Aristotle or St. Thomas Aquinas.

Oliver B. Antic
Ambassador of Serbia


 


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