Given our PC zeitgeist, how can productive communication take place without certain “neutral inquiry tools" of a new vocabulary and framework? How can we develop these as yet, non-existent tools for analyzing the influence of any society’, anywhere? We can start by integrating the diverse fields of social science study, to make more effective and clarify the connected elements of macroeconomics, governance and even family therapy clinical practice.
Cultural exploration may be seen through various lenses.
There is however, one hypothesis that is confirmed by thousands of years in human history: there will always be a cyclical pattern of an 'in-group" > kills "out-group" > births "new in-group" > " " and so on.
Despite the best of stated intentions, some ''one '' and some ''group '' will always be more equal. That very phenomenon is part of the challenge of diversity.
Ironically, ethnocentricity is universal.
In the 20th century and throughout human history, malicious generalizing about demographically defined groups has proven costly in lives and suffering. Therefore, in this era of ever-greater cross border migration, great care must attend any description of traits or behavioral characteristics of ethnic, racial, or cultural groups. "Political correctness”, or “PC", in everyday speech and intellectual discourse, has attempted to minimize the potential fallout of such destructive generalization on exposed populations. It has served a purpose, but not without imposing a cost.
Whether hidden in a cloak of biology, religion or hateful secular philosophy, prejudice seems to come with the hair and nails of humanity. It is the dead, unfeeling, but growing part of us. It also comes along with our usually fortunate ability to observe, think, generalize, and apply automatically drawn conclusions.
Given these two "innate" or “wired” and historically ancient tendencies, is it not better to get on top of the demographic danger by boldly chasing knowledge and skill, rather than using taboos and fearful avoidance? Moreover, we ask "just how much good has the "PC" taboo really accomplished? If we assume that violent hate and bigotry are a product of emotional and social crossed wires, should censorship be our only intellectual and research tool?
The Victorian era in England and Western Europe saw a societal threat from the rampant promiscuity and sexuality allowed by the migration of rural farmers into the crowded urban industrial cities. The Victorians thought they knew what to do: "How better to deal with a serious societal problem than creating taboos and not acknowledging its existence?" They came up with "sexual non-discussion correctness, SC": This gave the outsider, Sigmund Freud, his start in life.
Is that to be our model?
Recently an NYT.com article discusses these very issues as they play out in a highly urban post-industrial Denmark that is being either “invaded” or “assimilated” (Depending on whether the speaker is left or right; there is no longer any center.) by preindustrial mainly agrarian immigrants from various Eastern and Southeastern cultures.
As usual the gist of the NYT article is directed into a "PC" point of view. There is a watering down of real differences instead of an attempt to understand, in a frank and open context the nature, origin and underlying parameters of all cultural differences. Understandably, without a neutral and benevolent vocabulary and framework in which to have these discussions, The Times, as usual, tries to homogenize rather than explore. Below are some direct quotes from the article that go in our direction.
“Denmark, a small and orderly nation with a progressive self-image, is built on a social covenant: In return for some of the world’s highest wages and benefits, people are expected to work hard and pay into the system. Newcomers must quickly learn Danish — and adapt to norms like keeping tidy gardens and riding bicycles…
“The country had little experience with immigrants until 1967, when the first “guest workers” were invited from Turkey, Pakistan and what was then Yugoslavia. Its 5.7 million people remain overwhelmingly native born, though the percentage has dropped to 88 today from 97 in 1980….
“Bo Lidegaard, a prominent historian, said many Danes feel strongly that “we are a multiethnic society today, and we have to realize it — but we are not and should never become a multicultural society.” …
“Anders Buhl-Christensen, a center-right city councilman in Randers, said the influx had forced a more honest conversation about national identity. “Our problem in Denmark is that we’ve been too polite,” he said. “No one dared talk about” immigration, he added, “because they were afraid they’d be called racist.” …
“Many analysts saw Britain’s surprise vote to leave the European Union as an angry expression of concern that British — or, especially, English — identity was being diluted by the nation’s growing diversity. Debate is raging anew over whether certain Islamic modes of dress — full-body swimsuits, known as burkinis, in France and face veils in Germany — inherently contravene countries’ values. …
“Muslims do not assimilate as easily as Europeans or some Asians, said Denmark’s culture minister, Bertel Haarder, partly because, as he put it, their patriarchal culture frowns on women working outside the home and often constrains freedom of speech.
“ “It’s not racism to be aware of the difference — it’s stupid not to be aware,” Mr. Haarder said. “We do them a blessing by being very clear and outspoken as to what kind of country they have come to, what are our basic values.”…
“But much of the difference remains unspoken. This is a country where pedestrians wait for a green light to cross even when no cars are in sight, a contrast to the bustling streets of Middle Eastern capitals….
The question posed here is simply this: Can we not devise a more functional alternative to "political correctness"?
Let’s start by observing that "prejudice" usually includes this assumption (think pre-election Donald Trump) or a variation of it: "They are not like us, they are all alike, and they will never change, their ancestors were that way, they were born that way and they always will be that way."
However, any disciplined, enlightened attempt to study group characteristics must necessarily rebut this notion of inevitability. It does so by emphasizing the acknowledged facts of historical/environmental forces continuously shaping group habits and beliefs. The multi century American integration of various groups bears testimony to this. Why not acknowledge that studying these processes and elaborating on their nuances can open the way for productive knowledge and change. We therefore hope to employ a scientific approach, which disproves and discredits malicious genetic generalization by explaining in detail, and with a systems based vocabulary, how all group characteristics always take continuously stable but changing shape and direction. We envision an open and transparent process of inquiry, which does so in the light of objectivity and public scrutiny.
We underline the statistical truth that in all known instances, from large numbers, accurate prediction of individual instances is invalid and neutralized.
A book cannot be judged by its cover but a library can be judged by its books.
We can predict what one thousand people will choose on average, but we can never predict the choice (or behavior) of any one person.
Moreover, we summon the value of the "social sciences,” as an a priori fact, that validates an approach emphasizing the social environment in a variety of ways.
We seek explanations of how all people attach, live, have values, grow, and produce consistent progeny. If societal influence is not a valid concept why have "social" sciences? If they do influence, why be afraid or reluctant to investigate the facts in a forthright manner?
This approach is not about any particular demographic groups. It is about the processes and mechanisms that influence the development and behavior of all groups.
To choose political correctness and denial is to “spin" the value of cultural understanding and culture’s influence. To spin something tries to change the truth by changing the words.
Developing a new and necessary social science vocabulary that emphasizes and clarifies observable and underlying facts and mechanisms (and is totally divorced from bigotry) is one of the main purposes of this presentation.
Self-evidently, such a transparent study must scrupulously avoid all traces of emotional, value-laden, judgmental or prejudiced/stereotypical thinking. It must be constantly wary of allowing preconception to rule evidence, in order to avoid confusing the typical with the universal.