Steady As She Goes

Dalrymple’s new essay for the New English Review is a delightful analysis of the relationship between thought and language and its abuse by political correctness:

There are two kinds of censorship, the negative and positive. The negative proscribes, the positive prescribes…

The positive kind of censorship is much worse than the negative and, if it goes very far, is almost incompatible with either deep thought or good art. It co-exists with the negative form of censorship, but in addition to making some things unsayable it prescribes what must be said, in the way that any thesis on any subject whatever in the old Soviet Union was obliged to carry quotations from Lenin, showing that Lenin had come to the right conclusions years before. Of course, intelligent people quoted Lenin with satire in their hearts; but forcing men publicly to mouth sentiments as a precondition of furthering their careers is a sovereign way to destroy their probity and induce a state of self-contempt. And men who are contemptuous of themselves are more likely to take to the bottle than to constructive activity.

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