Below is a chapter from my forthcoming book Political Correctness and the Destruction of Social Order: Chronicling the Rise of the Pristine Self by Palgrave Macmillan. The book develops a psychoanalytic theory of political correctness and the pristine self, which is a self touched by nothing but love. It explores the damage that they can do to social order. Applications include the breakdown of social capital, the financial crisis, the English riots of 2011, and Occupy Wall Street. The conclusion analyses the recent debacle at Yale.
A version of the chapter on the racial hoax at Oberlin was presented as the paper we link below during the 2015 meeting of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations.
Abstract: It is often alleged that American society is racist, even though it is acknowledged that overt expressions of racism are extremely rare. How do people know that it is racist, then? This paper raises the possibility that this claim of racism is based on a projection. Our times have seen an overthrow of Oedipal psychology, in which the father represents objective reality, which gives us no special place. This overthrow has been in the name of the omnipotent mother, who loves us just because we are who we are. She disdains the father. Her children join her in that and believe that the love she gave him, which he was supposed to have earned, had been stolen from them. If it had not been, they would have been untouched by anything but love; an image I call the “pristine self.” It has been stolen from some children more than from others, and the task of the other children is to hate the father and love those, paradigmatically of other races, who have lost the most love in the past. The deprivation of this perfect love is projected onto the father and experienced as racism. Among those who adopt this view, it provides the basis for their experience of the world, and of their proper place within it, but it is entirely in the mind and hence rests on faith. They need to keep this faith constantly renewed. I illustrate this through an analysis of the response to a racism hoax at Oberlin College in 2013, centering around an anti-racist convocation, which I compare to a religious revival meeting.
Full Chapter: Analysis of a Racism Hoax
Howard Schwartz is an Emeritus Professor at Oakland University in Michigan.
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