Political Correctness: a new Silent Majority?
Case studies of organizational ethics.
by Kristo Ivanov, Dept. of Informatics, Umeå University.
December 2010 (rev 170319-1145)
Please note that controversial amazon-reviews of controversial books may be object of spam-attacks aimed at slandering the writers. This happens both in the text of the reviews and in their ratings by readers-customers in the form "X out of Y people have found the following review helpful". In its extreme form this is exemplified in the case of Warren Farrell's book The Myth of Male Power.
This is an essay that is mainly a long book review of Howard Schwartz's Society against itself: Political correctness and organizational self-destruction (London, Karnac Books, 2010), addressing a social, psychological and political phenomenon that later has also been denominated with the synonym opinion corridor. After my writing this review, it has also been treated by the same author in a later book, Political correctness and the destruction of social order, (2016), as well as in theoretically rather unrelated approaches by others such as Bruce Charlton in his Thought Prison: The fundamental nature of political correctness (2012) and (in Swedish) by Karl-Olov Arnstberg in PK-Samhället [The political correct PC-society] (2017).
It is an important and timely book, an example of rare civil courage in research on aspects of unperceived moral crisis and societal decay, which has the same effect on the reader as the author's earlier The Revolt of the Primitive (2003). A series of sharp analyses of detailed case studies feels like blows of "Aha! insight" which the reader will repeatedly feel later on when reinterpreting the meaning of many daily news and comments in our press and media. Its message appears as fitting perfectly my long experience and strong feelings about what happens in universities, business, and society at large, especially in what concerns human relations. It is a matter of questioning the family institution and religions, feminist influences in legislation, homosexual or "LGBT" movements, focus on diversity, sexual harassments and paedophilia, expanded vague definitions of rape based on unprovable degree of consent and, not the least, the academic turn away from organizational systems thinking towards the eclecticism of postmodern design and aestheticism (see the book's p.175). And universities may apply gender quotas and strive for gender perspective to be included in all research projects, and for 50% of course literature to be authored by women. But such perceptions of integral trends and explanations of complex phenomena are also what historically characterize the effect on the reader or listener of archetypal or mythical dramas like the one which lies at the basis of the book's theoretical approach.
Howard Schwartz, professor of organizational behavior with a background in philosophy presents a series of case studies of destructive processes in particular organizations. These include the Jayson Blair scandal at the New York Times, an advertising campaign by the United Church of Christ, the destruction of employee morale at the Ford Motor Company and the Cincinnati Police Department, the self-destruction of Antioch College, and the forcing out of president Larry Summers at Harvard University, concluding with reflections on the events represented by Princess Diana in relation to Queen Elizabeth as the national symbol of the United Kingdom. His question is "how did that happen and why?". The purpose is to understand "drives" and their source in the structure of members' mental processes, their irrational elements, emotions rooted in the family and psychoanalytically represented by the primal roles of the Father and the Mother in their relation to their children, i.e. images and relations as basic structures of our understanding. Early in the child's life the primordial Mother is experienced as the world, and her love is ideally absolute, unconditional, omnipotent, entirely beneficent and sufficient. The Father enters gradually in the life of the child as a stranger, representative of an indifferent or hostile external world which he mediates to both the mother and the child, both protecting and menacing to rupture their intimate relationship. Schwartz goes on summarizing the psychoanalytic scheme for two different patterns of ideal development of the Boy and the Girl, and he explains how modern society has weakened the mothers' and the children's perception of the Father to the point of effacing their power of adaptation to external reality. The grown up children as members of the organizations which build up modern society begin feeling and acting as frustrated, omnipotent but paradoxically unjustly oppressed potential mothers, or powerless, valueless and humiliated fathers endowed to societal compensation. They deal, as it were, with a virtual reality which is the result of their wishful thinking and resentment, and therefore requiring from themselves and others a so called political correctness, PC. Schwartz goes on in the whole book with case studies where PC-processes, because of their intrinsic irrationality, inhibit rational debate, consensus, and appropriate action. Adaptive and creative behavior necessary for adaptation to external constraints and arising opportunities is thwarted and turns into auto-destruction. On the symbolic plane this corresponds to the rejection of the Father and its social role representing external reality and societal exigences, combined with a sort of umbilical symbiotic reunion with the Mother and expectations of a motherly caring society which adapts to the needs of the individual. This process leading to a failed resolution of what in psychoanalysis is the Oedipal conflict is, then, called anti-oedipality.
BUT: Does this explain too much? How did it come that the whole, mainly Western, society after centuries of evolution came reductionistically to revolve around the Oedipus complex, or the Oedipus myth, fending the whole issue into oedipality versus anti-oedipality? The question is where this fundamental classification comes from, if not from a wholesale subscription to Freudian thought despite the book's vague theoretical disclaimer (pp. xiii-xiv) combined with other theoretical constructs like "multilevel analysis" (p. 52) whose methodological status I confess I have difficulty to understand. And beyond Oedipus, were there any other fellows around? Are there other culture-directing myths or forces beyond Oedipus and anti-Oedipus? A John Gray makes up his reputation with Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (1993). A Philip Zimbardo grounds the solution of his Lucifer Effect (2007) on Apollo vs. Dionysus, possibly in an unconscious unholy alliance with a stoic philosophical background of cognitivism. Many feminists would not acknowledge it but they seem to subscribe rather to the Demeter-Kore myth, which is emphasized by the ongoing media obsession with rape. Has it any relation to Oedipus? In other terms, the question is whether it is legitimate to see "the organization" as a monolithic, or oedipally bi-polar agent which in a Darwinian survival of the fittest should never be destroyed or commit suicide, something which is seriously considered in other organizational thinking as West Churchman's The Systems Approach and its Enemies (1979, pp. 207ff.) The organization should perhaps be seen, as it most often is, as composed of various social groups or stakeholders, shareholders, management, employees with their labour unions, and the all important customers, each one with its particular directing myth. In this case, the supposedly independent neutral organizational consultant or researcher is simply one additional group trying to contribute with its particular (Oedipal?) myth to the organization in its relation to individuals and the social environment.
The reader can then begin asking himself whether there are other various myths complementing the psychoanalytic Oedipal narrative, and in doing so trying to qualify the particular theoretical approach by expanding psychoanalysis, including for instance Jungian analytic psychology with its encompassing of multiple myths and its roots, common with psychoanalysis, in German post-Kantian philosophy. This seems to be necessary if one asks which are the forces or drives - whatever their theoretical status is - pushing into a supposed anti-oedipality, and which is their nature. It is the same question as to what counteracts the failure of the Oedipal struggle, considering that from the beginning the Oedipus tale was a tragedy, rather than a sort of engineering challenge to be solved by the objective observer, researcher, or spectator of the tragedy. But I see the main merit of Society Against Itself in its opening up of novel insights and research about most important, if not tragic, organizational difficulties. In my review I will try to survey several parallel avenues for a follow up of this investigation. Because of limited space I will not dwell on occasional perceived shortcomings at the level of detail of the book's case studies. My remarks will risk to be perceived as name-dropping but my purpose is to put the book and the reader in a research context which fosters a deeper evaluation and future progress in the problem area.
To begin with we have Wilfred Bion's organizational studies in Experiences in Groups (1961) which suggested his triad, dependency, fight-flight and pairing. His work apparently goes behind the Oedipal level, postulating the existence of still more primitive so called part-object and projective identifications which I myself associate with mythological objects. Seen as a research report Society Against Itself would need a justification of why it would be sufficient to explain the organizational phenomena with the Oedipal identifications, motivating a neglect of related schools of thought. The remaining feeling of "and so what - what to do?" after reading the book perhaps exposes an insufficiency in this respect.
We have also Otto Kernberg's studies of borderline personality organizations, as summarized from the point of view of organizational pathology in Internal World and External Reality (1980), especially in part 3 on "the individual in groups". The question is to which extent anti-oedipality also explains borderline phenomena including (epidemics of) pathological narcissism. And, in this case, why Schwartz did not attribute the organizational phenomena he studied to that. Pathological narcissism, borderline syndrome or narcissistic personality disorder which has at least the advantage of offering the status of elaborated diagnoses and prognoses with ICD- and MeSH-codes in the classifications of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, and Medical Subject Headings. Alternatively, why did Kernberg not satisfy himself with attributing the most phenomena he studied to anti-oedipality?
One most powerful precursor of Schwartz is, however, Alexander Mitscherlich in his early Society Without the Father (1970/1963) where he denounces "the dissemination of an infantile demanding attitude" in society and opens up venues for more dimensions of understanding the death of the Father. It adds to Schwartz's exposition an analysis of the fundamentally relevant historical role of technology in its associated politics of capitalistic economy, as if it were a far fetched, forced "anal-Oedipal" (cf. Schwartz, p. 164) interpretation of Martin Heidegger's famous analysis in The Question Concerning Technology (1977/1954). That may be the origin of the feminist understanding, contrasted with Schwartz's Oedipal one, for not believing that the Father anymore represents external reality, since it is taken care by the paradoxically "masculine" technology appropriated and used by women on behalf of Motherhood and children without being conscious that they in this way also endorse the modernism of capitalistic industrial technology they unconsciously identify with "men". And technology, if archetypal at all, relates to Daedalus-Icarus, rather than to Oedipus. Indirectly Mitscherlich also uncovers his unfortunate endorsement of the problematic ethical-religious standpoint of classical psychoanalysis in his chapters with such symptomatic titles as "The precariousness of moralities" and "Prejudices and their manipulation", especially the "sacrifice of the intellect". For a contrasting, adequate theological account of these aspects of technology one can recur to the epochal study by Mitcham & Grote (editors, Theology and Technology, 1984)
As things stand in today's discourse, however, Schwartz contributes indeed to the legitimate understanding of the ethical-religious dimension of the struggle against PC, which also facilitates that humble self-examination and sense of compelling obligation which would prevent PC. This is done in his chapter on "Religion against Itself" where he considers the roots of Christianity as lying in the faith in the sacrifice of Christ for redemption of sin (p. 79). In this, I believe, he almost inadvertently touches, but unfortunately soon also leaves, one main if not the only root of the PC-problem, ultimately subscribing to Freud's unfortunate view of science or, rather, scientism vs. so called mysticism (p. 199). I myself have come to the conclusion that religion and theology stand at the basis of it all, not because I must have faith but because they are the ultimate language for discussing the grounds of rationality. As I remember a Vedanta quotation: "Where science ends, starts philosophy, and where philosophy ends, starts religion". The attempt to define, understand and counteract PC by recourse to the Christian message (by all means not Christian in the problematic critical sense of the book's image of the United Church of Christ, UCC) is extremely difficult to grasp even for orthodox catholics. It requires committed study and reflection. The only simple explanatory text I know is unfortunately available only to Scandinavian readers through the Danish original and Swedish translation of Sżren Ulrik Thomsen's chapter "Pro Ecclesia" in his and Fredrik Stjernfelt's co-authored book Kritik af den Negative Opbyggelighed (A critique of negativism or, literally, of negative edification; Copenhagen, 2005) to be compared with Schwartz's own references to unexplained negation (pp. 158, 175): Christianity decrees man's faith in God, in order that he neither divinizes himself nor idealizes or demonizes others, and through faith in Christ avoids playing victim and from turning others into scapegoats; Christ is the ultimate scapegoat which allows man to hope for forgiveness for his own sin, instead of projecting it into scapegoats, in which he ought to see Christ's suffering instead of scoundrels' ultimate evil. The other way round: such an understanding prevents the even worse phenomenon of self-victimization, being trapped in a self-image of victimization (victim mentality), or of victim playing by manipulators who self-righteously claim to be unjustly persecuted while self-proclaiming themselves as innocent saints (a secular version of the biblical "Book of Job"), or even identifying themselves with Jesus Christ, the easier the less they believe in him. And Christianity, to be seen even by non-Christians or atheists at least as good as any mythological narrative, works out presumed anti-oedipality through the image of the Father and the Son (and the Spirit of the Holy Ghost) in their relations to the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Compare many feminists' wholesale rejection of not only the Father but also of the image of the Virgin Mary, not to mention the "Mother Church". In the realm of psychology this was well recognized by Carl Jung (in "Answer to Job", Collected Works CW 11, ¤748 ff.) as a dogma of extreme importance and, possibly, the solution for a genuine catholic Christian ("Oedipal") feminism. If not so, feminism shows indeed a regress to the primitive paganism of goddesses and priestesses, which in my mind also recalls the ongoing ecological divinization of "Mother Nature" (cf. Schwartz's book p.88f).
The very same transposition of psychoanalytical Oedipal terms into cultural Christian and political terms is achieved by the Swedish political scientist Tage Lindbom in his book The Myth of Democracy (1996, orig. 1991, p. 26f.) He reminds that expulsion from Paradise [cf. the Oedipal Mother] means entry into the profane world [of the Oedipal Father] with all of its forms of limitation, contradiction, and conflict. But the paradisiacal, primordial state of peace, serenity, and freedom from conflict lives on in man as a "memory", and therefore modern man dreams of a lost Paradise, even in socialistic and communistic speculations. Fairy tales and dreams can give what harsh, profane reality cannot provide. In contrast, traditional man is conscious of the conditions that inexorably govern creation. He knows that this brutal reality is a consequence of this expulsion from Paradise and that this is his destiny. He knows that a dream is a dream, that the world is what it is, and that man is what he is, that is, potentially a saint, potentially a villain. Traditional man knows that he cannot dream himself away from his earthly existence. Secularized man, on the contrary, has lost this elementary wisdom. When he enters a world of tales and make-believe, the cherished daydream has a different content: almighty human power will realize terrestrial perfection. He lacks a consciousness of the divine Father's presence in the world and senses an emptiness and meaningslessness that stimulates him to give himself up to endless narcissistic imaginings and speculations, which replace reality.
All this, of course, will sound meaningless for most people who, despite of all ongoing talk about multiculturalism, globalization or diversity never tried to understand neither religion nor theology, and it is also a measure of the communicative challenge that an author like Schwartz has to face. But it should make a lot of sense if one realizes that the great religions in general and Christianity in particular can be seen as synthesising interrelated and conflicting multiple myths beyond the Oedipal one which happens to be the focus of the psychoanalytic approach. The enormous problem of the intertwining of myths which is considered as solved into Christianity, and is ultimately omitted in Society Against Itself can be appreciated in James Hillman's work on "The Great Mother and her son, hero, and puer" in the very relevant edited book Fathers and Mothers (Spring, 1973) where four other authors also write valuable contributions on our matter. Hillman's essay was reworked later into a chapter of his book Senex and Puer (2006). In Fathers and Mothers he writes (p. 77, 83): "Attis, Adonis, Hippolitus, Phaeton, Tamuz, Endymion, Oedipus are examples of this erotic band [between the Great Goddess and her young male consort, her son, her lover, her priest]; the Oedipus complex is but one pattern of son and mother which produces those fateful entanglements of spirit with matter which in the twentieth century we have learned to call neurotic...The missing father is the absent father of our culture, the viable senex who provides not daily bread but spirit through meaning and order. He is the dead God who offered a focus for spiritual things, and without which, we turn to dreams and oracles [cf. PC-phenomena], rather than to prayer, code, tradition and ritual. When mother replaces father, magic substitutes for logos, and son-priests contaminate the puer spirit." Before this Hillman states that the idea of "the mother complex" still dominates in the analysis of young men: it is still considered to be the background of the "puer problem" and of "the ego development" but he believes that this is a dreadful mistake having both individual and collective consequences. Among them comes a sort of design-aestheticism: beauty, instead of reflecting Platonic ideals as a revelation of the essence of value, narrows "into the vanities of my own image, my own aesthetic production and sensitivies" (p. 85). He proposes a main Senex-Puer narrative instead of Oedipus-Antioedipus. Our author, Schwartz, in turn touches, albeit inconsequentially, upon the alternative Euripides' tale The Bacchae in his quotation of Agave and Cadmus before the first chapter of his book (p. xvi), and the "paternal" vs. the "infantile" (p. 200) instead of the otherwise recurrent "maternal". It is not clear where Hillman stands in relations to Christianity and I do not endorse his particular relation to Jung, but his references suggest that the Christian images of a Father-Son relationship within a Trinity, merged with Spirit and a feminine image, sacralized through the dogma of the Assumption, is the constructive conception legitimized to the Christian mind by the Revelation. I see it as enabling a therapy for the human psyche, resilient to the lures of PC which is a particular psychological expression of neurosis, pathological narcissism, or borderline syndrome dissimulated under the cover of the feminine. If not, as Hillman expresses it (p. 98): "Of course we live in the age of Moms, for the culture is secular and the ordinary mortal must carry archetypal loads without help from the Gods. The mothers must support our survival without support themselves, having to become Goddesses, everything too much, and they sacrifice us to out frustrations as we in turn, becoming mothers and fathers, sacrifice our children to the same civilization."
All this is aimed at advancing our reviewed book towards an answer to real WHY of this supposedly Oedipal failure, to the questions of AND SO WHAT - WHAT TO DO? An implicit answer to these questions could be claimed to be the "Aha! Experience" of recognizing the impact of the Oedipal explanation. But that does possibly work only for those few who already are close to the insight. But what can we expect from naively directing the PC-possessed to read books on psychoanalysis instead of submitting themselves to it? The significant majority of those who are gripped by the supposed anti-oedipality are definitionally not prone to be gripped by the Aha! insight of the Oedipal narrative. If we cannot send half of the Western world's possessed population to psychoanalysis by the other half would it help to send them to church or, for that matter, say, to the synagogue or the mosque? Or could we at least direct men to that sort of books of readings and poems like the one Hillman himself with Robert Bly and others edited, The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart, (1992) to rescue at least American men from PC? Or Waller R. Newell's editing of What Is a Man? 3,000 Years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue (2000)? They should do also for Western women in general. Or should we recreate a better sort of Eleusinian Mysteries (as studied by Edward A. Beach, 1995) as they are related to the image of the Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype, (Erich Neumann, 1955)? Or should we all be directed to the kind of studies of the nature of love as exemplified by Amor and Psyche: The Psychic Development of the Feminine (also by Erich Neumann, 1956, orig. 1952)?
I estimate that in all this the great merit of Society Against Itself is to open the doors for the need, on one hand, of further sheer "evangelization" and, on the other hand, further serious research on human psyche and relations, beyond the very relevant group-dynamic studies by Bion and Kernberg mentioned earlier. Examples were already suggested above, of literature capable of multiplying the opportunities for Aha! insights. Such literature if often remarkably absent and neglected in PC-correct literature, gender studies, women studies, feministic theology, and such. Further examples are the famous issue of violence against women which recently has been heightened up to the level of United Nations and its area of human rights, as if it were separated from the issue of violence against civilians, children and old people in general. No mention is usually made in that context of the nature and essence of violence to, say, Hannah Arendt's classic On Violence (1969) or Rollo May's Power and Innocence (1972) with its significant undertitle "A search for the sources of violence". The words recall that Carl Jung, writes (in his Collected Works CW 7, ¤78) that logically, the opposite of love is hate, and of Eros, Phobos (fear); but psychologically it is the will to power. And there is much rationalized talk about power and empowerment in feminist reinvindications, which in turn generate the motivations for the attempts to establish countercurrents such as the Men's Human Rights Movement (MHRM). The sources of violence and the references to these books tend to be ignored because the issue has been moralistically downgraded to sheer moral indignation on part of women, and now of the whole "society" including business towards evil men, with repercussions in legislation and everywhere. But how about violence against women, and about havoc in organizations as portrayed by Schwartz having been bolstered by technology and the breakdown of historically, painstakingly designed differential roles of women and men, leading to the breakdown of the family as society's constitutive unit, confrontational masculinization of women themselves, feminization of men, divorces, consequent economic difficulties and quarrels about custody of children and their education, etc.?
In general, the book's strenghts, consisting of exemplifications in particular organizations, should be broadened to include a deeper and pragmatic understanding of ignored dimensions of gender differences or supposed anti-oedipality. This has been done in the past and the insights should be rescued for present and future applications. We have for instance Lou Andreas-SalomŽ and her work on psychoanalysis, religion and sex, grounded in her bindings to Freud, Nietzsche and Rilke, as analyzed in Angela Livingstone's book on her life and writings (1984). Cf. SalomŽ's Der Mensch als Weib (1899) or Die Erotik (edited by Martin Buber, 1910). Approximately at the same time Carl Jung was developing what came to be called analytical psychology after the schism from Freud which is very significant for our purposes. This is portrayed in his chapter on "Anima and Animus" in part 2 of the essay on "The relations between the Ego and the Unconscious", in Two Essays on Analytical Psychology (Collected Works vol. 7, 1966/1953). On this account PC is mainly due to Animus-Anima obsession, rather than to anti-oedipality. Before that, we had the most interesting and relevant Franz von Baader's "philosophy of love", as Ernst Benz shows while digging in The Mystical Sources of German Romantic Philosophy (1983). Jźrgen Habermas and his modern continental philosophy has a close engagement with those currents of thoughts through Friedrich Schelling, showing the actuality of such presently repressed mysticism. Baader, whose philosophy of love seems to be available in the German collected works or in Italian translation (Filosofia Erotica, 1982), or edited in Ramon Betanzos' Franz von Baader's Philosophy of Love (1999), offers interpretations of the gender issue which are radically different and deeply ingrained in the history of natural science, philosophy, and theology. They are also symptomatically totally ignored by present main currents of feminism and social critique, as they also ignore the embarrassing "first wave" of feminism, revived only in exclusive modern studies like Brian Gibbons' Gender in Mystical and Occult Thought (1996). If there are meaningful connections, as I suspect, with other "multi-myth" works like Julius Evola's (his Metaphysics of Sex, orig. 1991/1958, and Revolt against the Modern World, orig. 1969) it only helps to understand the roots of fascism which were buried in the perverse promiscuity and intellectual-moral turbulence period between the two world wars. It prefigured our present situation, resulting from the maturation of early misunderstanding of the gender issue within the secularization process established at the time of the French revolution. As a matter of fact, the origin of the perversion of the gender issue which stands at the core of the PC-phenomenon is to be searched at the dawning of reformed Enlightenment, as indicated by No‘lle Ch‰telet in the foreword to Sade's classic, Justine (in Gallimard's French edition, 1981). Ch‰telet shows how Sade's work assumes and spells out a gender-philosophy. It is a philosophy that is conveniently ignored by most politically correct gender studies since it fits almost perfectly both their explicit and implicit philosophical grounds whenever such grounds can be formulated at all, and are not sheer tragic disorientation as embodied by destinies of feminist prominences such as, say, Andrea Dworkin. The political point of view which also is extremely important in the PC-issue was originally considered by Mitscherlich but his approach including a contemptuous view of religion (p. 16, 188, 249) should be examined in its endorsement of the so-called Critical Theory, for its implications at the confluence of psychoanalysis, politics, and theology. Mitscherlich gives there his problematic answer to the question which Schwartz ignores: WHAT-TO-DO. Compare with the controversial but revealing essay by Bill Lind about The Origins of Political Correctness (2000). Ultimately I recommend the political analysis in historical and modern terms by Tage Lindbom in his The Myth of Democracy (1996), on a misunderstood democracy which has clear consequences for the spreading of PC.
In other more controversial summarizing words, to get the most out of this timely and extremely courageous book and its valuable empirical content, and to avoid its pitfalls, try to bridge it back to the problematic but all-encompassing Mitscherlich, bridge its Freud plus the obscure Lacan over to Jung plus obscure Hillman. And bridge the book's implicit use of the (Schwartzean Father's) rather naive Lockean, positivistic, consensual, "democratic" view of external reality as criticized in Churchman's The Design of Inquiring Systems (1971) to non-Nietzschean post-Kantian philosophy, Hegel, Schelling, Baader, and further, to the philosophy of technology, ending up in theology and religion. And, why not have a meditative reading of the Bible's Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth) and Apocalypse (Revelation) which eventually indicate why the apparent hopelessness of AND- SO-WHAT, WHAT-TO-DO lies beyond its reduction to oedipality vs. anti-oedipality, to the point of it erroneously appearing as a failure of a failed Messiah.
I borrow a friend's words: The main problem with my review is that it is much too long, and after the first thousand words or so, does not say anything that most readers will understand. I'd cut it at around the 1,000 word mark, doing what needed to be done within that limit to make that into a whole, which is to say having a beginning, a middle, and an end. That would work much better. For the rest, I think I'd be best off filling it out as a long essay, in its own right, or even as a book. -- This is what I thought and wished. But then I may have been right in "publishing" it as it is, considering that it takes a great additional effort to improve it, perhaps greater than my writing up to now. It was a matter of choosing between this, or nothing until further notice. It takes genius to make complicated things simple (albeit not necessarily easy), perhaps to the point of finding a Platonic or Copernican core or "invariant" behind the complex and disordered. Maybe that was the lure behind the book's author referring to the psychoanalytical Oedipal myth.
For the rest, in order to appreciate how infected and prone to misunderstandings is the book's issue, requiring extensive and space-consuming qualifications, please see the numerous slandering spam-reviews of Warren Farrell's PC-critical bestseller The Myth of Male Power (accessed up to 14 January 2011). A similar slandering has been directed in Sweden against Pär Ström who has summarized his observations in the book (in Swedish) Mansförbjudet: Könsdiskriminering av män och pojkar [Man Banned: Gender discrimination of men and boys.] (BoD, 2012).
The publisher of the reviewed book is Karnac Books.
Compare this book with the author's earlier related book The Revolt of the Primitive: An Inquiry into the Roots of Political Correctness, (2003) summarized by reviews at amazon.com. Accessed 31 Dec. 2010.