In the novel “1984,” part of the dystopian government that George Orwell imagined was its use of the language of “Newspeak,” a simplification of the English language to serve the needs of the state. Newspeak altered thoughts, so that people were rendered incapable of thinking outside Party lines.
We now see this same principle at play in political correctness, where concepts behind words are being altered to fit political narratives; and where people are censoring their own thoughts to not violate the artificial morals of the state.
The effects of political correctness can be found most clearly where the concept originates: under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) where Mao Zedong created the concept in 1967 to control public dissent at the start of the Cultural Revolution. The idea was simple: support the regime’s policies and you are politically correct. Oppose them, and you can be targeted and destroyed.
In its details the CCP’s use of political correctness is different from the way it’s used in the United States and Europe, yet underneath it has the same purpose. Under the Chinese regime, it’s used as an artificial moral system to guard the policies of the CCP. In the United States it’s used as an artificial moral system to guard socialist policies.
Under the CCP’s film censorship laws, for example, the standards are made intentionally vague so that filmmakers attempt to over-censor in order to please authorities. Using this system, people need to consider what the regime would consider immoral, and attempt to pre-censor themselves to appease its politically correct censors.
Variety recently reported a case with Chinese film “Last Sunrise” where CCP censors said it “showed too much of the darkness of humanity.” To appease the regime, the filmmakers went overboard. The director, Ren Wen, said “The problem is they’re not specific, so we just had to cut whatever we thought they might find too dark or violent.”
Of course, while making a film less dark and violent could be a good thing, in the context of communist political correctness this has other purposes.
Soviet defector and former propagandist Yuri Bezmenov explained in his book, “Love Letter to America,” that when a communist regime is trying to subvert a country, it attacks all of the nation’s moral and cultural foundations. These take various forms, but include promotions of drug use, grassroots movements, and all forms of vices.
Yet, when the regimes take power, they will move to forbid the systems of destabilization. Bezmenov wrote that when the socialist regime is formed, it then needs to establish stability and create a “new morality.” At that point, Bezmenov explained, there will be “No more ‘grass roots’ movements. No more criticism of the State. The Press will obediently censor itself.”
In other words, during the stages of destroying morals and destabilizing society, political correctness is used to guard the systems of cultural decay. When the regime takes full power, however, it will use political correctness to guard its hold on power.
In the context of the CCP, its stage of wanting people to sense the “darkness of humanity,” has come to a close—at least when it’s related to the Chinese people. Instead, it wants people to feel happy with 12-hours a day, 6-day work weeks, and the environment of mass censorship and surveillance. They’re living the dystopian reality that Orwell envisioned, but with a shiny polish that they’re told to feel happy about. Thoughts that drift into thinking life may be better with another political system would be dangerous to the state, and so the regime forbids imagery that could invoke such thoughts.
Meanwhile the CCP has no problem portraying the “darkness of humanity” when it serves its interests—such as portraying life before the communist regime took power. As Chinese people began to have a fascination with China’s 5,000 years of history, the CCP took things a step further and banned portrayals of China before the CCP took power.
When the show Yanxi Palace about life in imperial China became the country’s most-watched drama, the communist regime saw public interest in the culture it destroyed as a threat to its power. In January, state media declared that the show, and other imperial dramas, were having “negative impacts”, and they were banned soon after.
The CCP has portrayed traditional Chinese history—which was heavily based in values of filial piety, propriety, and reverence for the divine—as being something dark and evil. Any portrayal of the true values and culture is seen as a threat to the state.
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Author: Joshua Philipp