And that’s not just troubling — it’s bizarre. For the last wave of Political Correctness, in the 90s, was explicitly political — not just cultural. Political activity was its regular, and perhaps defining, feature. That is why it won significant political battles. Take, for example, gay rights and AIDS — both issues pushed to the forefront by the last wave of PC activism. What is curious is that they do not happen with the same intensity today. So let me say it again. The New Left is a project of cultural reform. But it is not a project of political engagement.A key difference is that the left wasn't the seat of moral power in the 90s. The right was. Censorship was someone getting their panties in a wad at seeing a dick in a Mapplethorpe exhibit, or freak-outs over rap lyrics. Even the PMRC, headed by future second lady Tipper Gore, was seen as conservative by those on the left. Leftists or progressives in 2015 are conservative. And identity becomes a game of slotting oneself into the appropriate boxes:
New Leftism offers us something far more tempting: sacrificing our potential for our identities. That is its central sleight of hand, and what is so alluring about it, especially to the youngs. Here is a long, long list of all possible identities, it says. They are approved, validated, acceptable. You can be a non-conformist — as long as you conform to them. You know the jargon already, perhaps: pansexual alloromantic sex-neutral male person. This is what, in the jargon, you “identify as” — not what (heaven forbid) you may become. For the New Left, the development of the self, life’s greatest, most uncertain adventure, is a…dull exercise in box-ticking. For identity has already been bureaucratically categorized, divided, subdivided, mapped out— and all you have to do is choose one! Instantly, your life will have a little more meaning, purpose, happiness. It can’t, after all, if you don’t fit in a box to begin with. If you don’t fit in any of the pre-approved boxes, well then, you must truly be a non-conformist…therefore, New Leftism prioritizes identity over possibility. Thus, identity chosen, label affixed, conformity assured, danger erased, the great complications of life will begin to grind themselves away.