The economics of political correctness

Here’s a very sharp and interesting take on what I’ve been calling virtue-signaling. The article is a couple of years old but nonetheless it is as incisiveness and salient as ever especially to one who has a basic grasp of market price signals and coordination dynamics. Isn’t it telling that despite academia being firmly under the regressive left’s management for a long time now they are bleating about a whole range of phony “inequities” — under their watch. Perversely, the thought that the problem must surely lie with them simply just does not occur to them. As Douglas Murray said in conversation with Sam Harris, there is a supply-and-demand problem for the regressive left and with ever decreasing circles they have started to cannibalize themselves. Topical update but not nearly as sharp in The Atlantic.

Political Correctness is really just a special form of conspicuous consumption, leading to a zero-sum status race.

Once you have successfully exorcised a word or an opinion, how do you differentiate yourself from others now? You need new things to be outraged about, new ways of asserting your imagined moral superiority.

You can do that by insisting that the no real progress has been made, that your issue is as real as ever, and just manifests itself in more subtle ways. Many people may imitate your rhetoric, but they do not really mean it, they are faking it, they are poseurs . . . You can also hugely inflate the definition of an existing offense . . . Or you can move on to discover new things to label ‘offensive’, new victim groups, new patterns of dominance and oppression.