In the forum, a reader draws attention to a recent piece by Melanie Phillips on “The coercive culture of human rights”. The piece was prompted by the release of a UK government White Paper (*.pdf format) about proposed comprehensive administrative arrangements for enforcing equality, rooting out discrimination, and generally doing what has to be done to make equality and human rights “core values” of UK society.
Miss Phillips is one of the few mainstream journalists to note that the effort involves compulsory reconstruction of things that are as fundamental as understandings of social and individual identity, and as such is patently totalitarian. She’s begun to develop ways to articulate what’s wrong with it, and I hope she continues her efforts. As they stand, though, her views somewhat echo the standard conservative line that PC and the like are caused by weird extremists doing weird things. When something becomes as entrenched and powerful as the equality industry I think it’s more to the point to understand its rationality than its irrationality. As a functional matter, PC and the rest of it are an effort to turn the whole of society into a single economic structure in which no differentiations or social authorities are permitted that are not directly subservient to the power, efficiency and technical rationality of the structure itself. As such, it’s surely insane in the largest sense, but it’s powerful because it follows well-established understandings of what it is to be rational and what good government should do, and so can’t simply be dismissed as shallow, extreme, oppressive, undemocratic and so on.