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Western, S. (2016). Political Correctness and Political Incorrectness: A Psychoanalytic Study of New Authoritarians. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 16(1):68-84.

(2016). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 16(1):68-84

Political Correctness and Political Incorrectness: A Psychoanalytic Study of New Authoritarians

Simon Western

This paper makes the case that new forms of authoritarianism are on the rise and it explores this claim through the lens of looking at politically correct and politically incorrect cultures. There are common perceptions that the right becomes more authoritarian during periods of transition, uncertainty, and in economically difficult times, while the liberal-progressive left also makes greater claims for social justice and equality during these periods. Commentators are expressing this right-wing turn to authoritarianism today in terms of the rise of Donald Trump in the US, and the rise of nationalist and rightist politics across Europe. This paper takes a psychoanalytic perspective to disrupt this normative view, and claims that it is not just the right that turns towards authoritarianism but it is also the liberal-progressive left who make this turn. Political correctness (PC) and political incorrectness (PIC) are both on the rise and both offer us a way of exploring this turn to authoritarianism.

If we look at the PC and PIC “tribes” the rational view is that they are poles apart because they espouse opposite views, yet ideologically they are very close to each other, in terms of how they enjoy, and what they desire. This paper finds that both the PC and PIC stance share similar ways of gaining enjoyment through aggression, idealising their identities, and both share a desire for a new authoritarian social settlement.

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