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JSPES, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Winter 2002 )
pp. 409-444

Political Correctness and the Ideological Struggle: From Lenin and Mao to Marcuse and Foucault

Frank Ellis

The first use of the term political correctness can be traced to the period between 1895-1921 when Lenin was trying to achieve two goals: first, to secure ascendancy over his revolutionary peers; and second, after 1917, to consolidate the party's control over the new Soviet state. This article explores the Leninist origins of political correctness and its evolution since 1917. The author analyses the exceptional importance of "correctness" in the Maoist variant and, subsequently, through Maoism, its influence on the New Left and the contemporary manifestation of political correctness which emerged as a public issue in the West at the end of the 1980s.