how the world works

The problem seems to me to be twofold. The first is that righteousness, which always is dependent on a Manichean division of ethics and politics, stokes the fires of a sectarianism that has blighted radical politics for over two centuries. The historic tragedies and outrages of Left totalitarianism are enough reason for any of us who still identify as socialist to choose inquiry over conviction, to favour the nuances of contradiction and doubt. ‘Political correctness’ is a phrase so over-indulged by conservatives that its very use now seems trite and banal, but twenty years on from the culture wars we need to acknowledge the truth that strident identity politics and postmodernist obsessions over symbols and language led to a straitjacketing of feminist and socialist thought. Against the logic of a war metaphor, I don’t see such an acknowledgement as a retreat but as necessary work. The work is twofold: we need to learn to listen, as much as we need to learn again how to communicate. For we all know that smug people, regardless of their politics, don’t listen.

via The Toxicity of Smugness | Melbourne Review.

The Toxicity of Smugness | Melbourne Review

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