There’s a reason conservatism and classical liberalism are the new counterculture. Political correctness, the new crowning aspect of leftism, is the essence of everything overbearing and prudish. This kind of imposition on people has always been uncool, whereas open defiance to authoritarianism never fails to inspire reverence and awe in young people.
Young people respect two things: defiance, and anything genuine. The left may be able to court some of them with its defiance toward social norms, but this is ultimately a manufactured revolt for a fake cause, and the seams of that patchwork are staunchly visible.
I used to imagine a future in which nonconformity and deviation would become a sort of “lifestyle” marketing image. To be a rebel, one would need simply buy rebel’s clothes. The world seemed a place in which being anything would become as simple as looking so, as superficiality overtook the more profound aspects of culture, following in what appeared its continual progression.
Essentially, poetry, art, and philosophy would all become minor parts in a myopic drama, written by someone else — whoever sets the tone of our interactions. But not us.
Even then, in 2012, my highschool used marketing techniques to teach us political activism, and taught us to persuade others using sensationalism.
It must have been the heroin-infused apathy of a certain subset of gen-xers that preserved itself in my company — the mentality that brandishes its middle finger at authority. The “Kurt Cobains” of the world. That grungy guy down the street who glimpses at the pretense and frivolity of the rat race, and without a moment’s consideration, responds simply, “fuck that.”
This generation that grew up in the eighties may not be really worthy of emulation, but a dream image of it, with its ethos of indifference to the consequences of rule-breaking made its impression, even if those of us who relay that ethos are few in number. There are those of us who stand in defiance to political correctness because all things shallow and mainstream are something to be scoffed at and rejected.
Once upon a time, there were artists who saw integrity to one’s own vision as more important than following the conventions of society. There have always been those who would take offense, but that was part of what gave art it’s value. Being challenging and provocative has always been considered a mark of excellence.
To be an iconoclast was not necessarily a political act, and did not place you onto either “side of the aisle”. Today, you are given a catch-22. Abandon your own preferences or violate a strict system of enforced political norms.
Do you prefer the shame of cowardice that comes from ditching your principles or the public shaming that comes from transgressions of opinion?
I reject the fear of these consequences. Banish it from my mind. Any acts of defiance I engage in are to a certain extent the product of my principles, but they’re carried forward by outrage at the feeling that we are retreating into shells of anodyne complacency, pissing away the legacies of the conquering spirits of the past, who could generate new order from the world’s chaos like snaps of lightning, always sudden and impolite. Politeness is submission and acquiescence to those in power. It proliferates the conventions of their poorly constructed vision of the world.
So we must be willing to break from the shell which is the paradigm enforced on us by others. After many decades of incubation in wishy-washy, lifeless pop culture and a generalized assault on our minds, the time has come to smash through the wall with that anarchic sledgehammer of unapologetic, free thinking autonomy. Let’s break through the confines of this docile dream into the crisp air of wakefulness — in a profusion of fire and fury, adequate to purify our superiors of any intention to suppress us, as they’ve done in Europe.
I invite the reader to become unruly and offensive. This is how you can retake your domain of verbal expression — whose dominion is never to be held in the hands of another, in any amount, under any circumstance. This is a perfectly moral way in which you can attain personal sovereignty: by freeing yourself from these mechanisms of social control, and meeting the judgements of others with indifference.
Unjust social stigma is a monster powered by its victims fear of it. It’s annihilated by a singular, powerful indifference to it.
One cannot over-exaggerate the necessity of indifference. If we allow others to set the tone of our conversations, yes, we lose the capacity to govern ourselves. But this is more than a battle over broader culture or politics. The consequences that the left -or rather the shepherds of the herd- confer onto transgressors, are that which encapsulates the very spirit in weakness, removing its ability to ever free itself from its enslavement to the material world.
The way in which the fear of lost reputation degrades the human spirit can’t be overstated. Love of reputation causes us to forsake our ideals, rather than to be subject to disapproval. But it’s better to be hated by others while retaining one’s integrity, than to be liked for cowardly compliance with peer pressure.
People don’t want to say the wrong thing because they fear losing their jobs, or their advertisers. If this is your mentality, content yourself with the certainty that you are selling out future generations for the sake of short-term security.
We aren’t free in America as long as we tether ourselves to petty things. The cost of self ownership is indifference to life. This irony is the only truth. Wild animals can’t be controlled because they don’t fear death. They have no foreknowledge of suffering. But we fear the loss of our possessions, and merely for speaking the wrong syllable, making the wrong gesture, taking the wrong tone.