How dignity can survive the victimhood culture.

Trigger warning: this article attacks political correctness. Or, I should say, counterattacks it.


A victimhood culture combines an honor culture’s quickness to take offense with an overdependence on the coercive institutions that serve as a dignity culture’s last resort. If Campbell, Manning, and Horwitz are right about the direction American society is taking, that’s really terrible news. A victimhood culture will spawn social conflict, which in turn will produce an ever larger and more coercive government tasked with trying to suppress it.

Dignity was great, but when it rested on law it wasn’t sustainable over the centuries. You can’t borrow dignity forever. I suggest a fourth way: self-dignity. You want dignity? Then earn it. Begin with self control – reason over emotion. Then work on gaining control over your surroundings – including less dignified others. You’ll get a lot of hostility, but there’s hostility anyway, so it may as well be the kind of hostility that gets you somewhere.

Give the old honor culture its due: the ones who stand up for themselves get respect, and that empowers people. The only thing wrong with it is the short fuse. Self-dignity is like honor but with a longer fuse.

Be the grownup you want to see in the room.