Howard Schwartz on Political Correctness and Entitlement

I am currently reading an excellent book: “Society against itself” by Howard Schwartz. I am not sure yet that I agree with his entire theory but the book is of the best kind of book: it motivates me to think long and hard about what it has to say. Whatever else, I am certain that I will be smarter or wiser after reading and thinking about it. And that certainty is alarmingly rare.

To give you an idea:

For a long time now I am feeling increasingly  uneasy about every new example of political correctness I come across. Something about PC feels completely wrong even if I so far could not put my finger on what exactly that is.

I know that I am not alone with that impression. “Political correctness gone mad” is a standing idiom in the UK.

Another thing I always wondered about is the fact that practically every author in the manosphere relates tales of “entitled” women. Apparently very many females in the US and the UK have an irrational sense of their own worth and thereby what they are entitled to.

Schwartz offers a theory that answers both questions: What is wrong with PC and what is wrong with girls* today.

*This is most likely “people” and not just “girls”, but the anecdotal evidence of the bloggers mentioned is about girls and women.

Political correctness

The basis of PC is the belief that the Western societies have for a long time been dominated by “the white male power structure” or the “Patriarchal hegemony”. A variation of that thought is the conviction that everybody – apart from white heterosexual males – has been oppressed.

Out of that idea grew an almost absolute intolerance against anything thought to be sexist, racist or homophobic. This fight is highly emotional and it is enough that the avengers think that something is un-PC for the debate to end, for the destruction of the perpetrator to commence.

The important points here are that the PC-judges are almost entirely emotional and irrational and that the annihilation of anyone not adhering to PC is the desired outcome.

How can this extreme attitude be explained in a civilized society?

Psychoanalysis 101

Disclaimer: I am in no way a psychologist myself and am almost certain that I will misrepresent or misuse one or the other term and idea. If so I would be glad if you found the time to enlighten me about my mistakes in the comment section.

Psychoanalytical theory states that the early childhood is extremely important for the building of human personality.

Human’s life (ideally) starts with a very very tight connection with his mother. As long as this connection is there the child is happy, safe and the world is a good place.

Sooner or later the “World” comes between the mother and the child usually in form of the father.
Father becomes symbolic for that which severs the complete connection between Mother and Child. The love is still there but as long as father takes up time with mother the connection is not complete.

(Is it necessary to stress the point that “mother” and “father” here are less concrete persons but archetypical roles? I hope not.)

Every human has one Main Goal: to reconnect with mother. To be safe and loved again like he was in the beginning.

Father traditionally fulfills another role. Sooner or later the world/reality makes itself felt. Father is part and symbol for that reality but he is also the one to protect from it and to make sense of it.

This dichotomy is important: on the one hand the caring, loving mother and on the other hand the uncaring, completely imdifferent reality. It’s father’s job to teach the child how to cope or rather how to deal with reality. Reality has rules; learn the rules and you no longer feel only threatened by it. There is threat but you can deal with it.

If all goes well the son learns that by becoming like father (dealing with the world, accomplishing things) he can earn mother’s love; father does have mother’s love, after all. The daughter learns that to become a mother herself she must accept and connect to a father.

While mother represents emotion, namely love, father represents structure, rules, rational thought, the realization that reality is demanding and how to meet the demands.

In a hostile world the protecting (and teaching) role of father becomes quite clear rather soon and the child learns to see father as a positive force. The world does not even need to be hostile. It is sufficient that it’s indifference (the world does not care if you live or die, it will continue to be, regardless) is felt.

In a tamed world this possibly does not happen. The realization that there is an objective, demanding world may not occur, when fathers do their protecting job too well. Then father is no longer recognized for what he can do but only as the force separating child and mother. If that is the case then father and what he represents (learning to deal with the demands of reality, be rational) is evil. Destroy father and you’ll be joined with mother again. There will be nothing but love.

Mother’s lesson is “You can be loved for just being.” Father’s lesson is “You are not valued for just being but for what you contribute.” No wonder that everyone would prefer mother’s lesson if he does not ‘get’ the absolute necessity of father’s lesson.

If an objective reality can not be felt, if it seems that it doesn’t exist, there is no explanation why anyone should get more appreciation or love than anyone else. No other explanation than: an evil and unfair oppressor keeps the love from some.

Culturally speaking: who can be identified in U.S. society as being/representing the father figure? Not the oppressed but the ones that have the most love (in form of priviledge?) because they stole it from all the oppressed ones. In other words: white heterosexual males are the bad guys. All others are oppressed and need to be freed from the stealing, conniving bastards.

To quote Schwartz:

The cultural narrative becomes that you are entitled to love, but it has been stolen from you by those hateful, oppressive authorities who now tell you what you are supposed to do. Get rid of him, the narrative continues, take away his power, which is only the power to take [mother’s love] from us, and you usher in the power of the mother, which is the power to give to us.

And that means…

All the bits to explain aggressive, destructive, irrational behaviour against the things the father represents (organization, establishment, structure, logic) are there now.

Most of the rest of the book “Society against itself” examines concrete examples of irrational “love is everything and must be evenly distributed” policies destroying established structures in some detail, thus explaining and deepening the theory.

To give a whiff of an illustration I’d like to sketch one of the examples, the one about Harvard president Larry Summers.

He was asked to deliver a speech in 2005, in which tried to explain the relatively low percentage of women “in tenured positions in science and engineering at top universities”. He offered three hypotheses; the one that got him into trouble was:

It does appear, that on many, many different human attributes – height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability – there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means, which can be debated, there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population. If one supposes as I think is reasonable, that if one is talking about physicists at a top twety-five research university, one is not talking about people who are two standard deviations above the mean. (…) But it’s talking about people who are 3.5, four standard deviations above the mean in the one in 5000, one in 10.000 class. Even small differences in the standard deviation will translate into very large differences in the available pool substantially out.

Given that the greater variability found among males is one of the best established findings in all of behavioural science, this seems to be a simple application of statistics.

Summers immediately, in his speech, emphasized that this is a scientific hypothesis that does not in any way represent his feelings towards gender issues.

Which started a hell of a shit-storm, please excuse my french.

For example a female biology professor at MIT was quoted as saying:

I felt I was going to be sick. (..) My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow. I was extremely upset. (…) When he started talking about innate differences in aptitude between men and women, I just couldn’t breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill.”

The ensuing discussion completely ignored the scientific value of Summers’ hypothesis and concentrated instead on how it made people feel and how Summers must feel to say something like that.

In other words: He took love away. There is no justification to take love away. He must be bad.

Schwartz’s analysis and explanation go far deeper than I can and want to represent here.

Just go ahead and read the book.

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