Lit Crit

Howard S. Schwartz, Political Correctness and the Destruction of Social Order

December 26, 2017

(4) It further explains the equally irrational and similar blame placed on fathers by the society at large for family breakdown and by pundits from the left to the right, along with the virtual impossibility of assigning culpability to mothers who unilaterally divorce without any legally recognized grounds or who bear children out of wedlock, or of assigning any status to single mothers other than that of “victim.”

(5) Finally, it helps explain why concocted accusations of “domestic violence” and “child abuse” are presumed to be true, even when everyone knows that they are false. (Schwartz describes “accusations supported by nothing more than the feelings of the accuser.”) Likewise, as we now see daily on the front pages, it may explain why—following the exposure of hoax after hoax—accusations of rape, “domestic violence,” child abuse, sexual assault, “sexual harassment,” sexual this and sexual that, continue to be taken seriously and why no amount of crying wolf seems ever to produce the proverbial consequences.

Schwartz’s approach has some similarities with that of the late Joseph Nicolosi, whose starting point and purposes are very different. Nicolosi was a therapist concerned with the origins and effects of homosexual attraction. His thesis, succinctly conveyed in the title of one essay, was that “masculinity is an achievement”: The female role is the default status, and to be a man requires accomplishment and breaking free from an assortment of female supports to a masculine realm of self-reliance. Homosexual attraction typically results from a relationship with the father that is underdeveloped and where this emancipation from the maternal world is incomplete.

Unlike Schwartz, seeking to explain “political correctness,” Nicolosi was not at all concerned with politics (and further, Schwartz is a secularist, whereas Nicolosi was a Christian). Yet not only do they independently arrive at parallel conclusions; by juxtaposing them, one might well be tempted to see an explanation for today’s militant “homosexualism”—homosexuality as a political ideology, including a common hatred of all things masculine, that now likewise dominates the front pages—as originating in a dysfunctional hatred of the father.

This congruence suggests something remarkable about the origin of today’s radical sexual ideology. It suggests that radical homosexual militancy may be the purest form yet of political radicalism, or at least the logical conclusion of the radicalism that has dominated modern history.

Schwartz’s theory therefore has profound implications. His illustrations from current events may make it vivid to the contemporary reader, but they may also have the unfortunate effect of selling it short and depriving it of the profundity it contains, especially given that different readers are bound to have other interpretations of the episodes he cites. Again, this book often focuses on racial controversies, as many do nowadays. But as Schwartz suggests in The Revolt of the Primitive, the ideology on the cutting edge of “political correctness” today is not race but sex or “gender.” Indeed, for many conservatives nowadays, it sometimes seems like overemphasizing the politics of race serves as cover to avoid having to confront the far more hazardous and dangerous politics of sex. (If any males were the first to be emasculated in our society, after all, it was black and other minority ones, through the welfare and divorce system. How many young black criminals are acting out the predictable behavior of being deprived of fathers by the single-mother homes institutionalized in the welfare and divorce machinery?) Schwartz’s psychoanalytic approach would seem to suit the politics of sex even more than those of race.

Scholarly readers in particular might also be well served by a short essay, abstracting the theory from the illustrations and connecting it to the work of writers like Nicolosi, whose readership is very different but which might benefit from Schwartz’s ideas.

But these are quibbles. This book is a major contribution to understanding the trajectory of our political culture and can hardly be recommended highly enough.

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