Fascist Irrationalism: Wilhelm Reich
by Wilhelm Reich
from his book The Function of the Orgasm
The unsophisticated person will ask whether science upon its heights has nothing better to do than to ask such stupid questions as to whether the earthly happiness of human beings is ‘desirable’ or ‘practicable’. That, he might say, is a matter of course. Nevertheless, things are not as simple as they might appear to the buoyant, enthusiastic adolescent or the cheerful happy-go-lucky individual. In the centers that had a decisive influence upon public opinion in Europe around 1930, the demand of the masses of people for happiness was neither considered a matter of course, nor was its absence regarded as a matter for question. There was at that time literally no political organisation which would have considered it important enough to concern itself with such ‘banal’, ‘personal’, ‘unscientific’ or ‘unpolitical’ questions.
However, the social events around 1930 raised just this question in all its significance. It was the tide of Fascism which swept across Germany like a hurricane and made people ask in utter bewilderment how such a thing was possible. Economists, sociologists, cultural reformers, diplomats and statesmen alike, tried to find an answer in old books. The answer.could not be found in old books. There was not a single political pattern that would have fitted this eruption of irrational human emotions which Fascism represented. Never before had politics itself been questioned as an irrational thing.
In this volume, I shall discuss only those social events which threw into sharp focus the clash of opinions as it had taken place in Freud’s study. I have to neglect here the broad social-economic background.
Freud’s discovery of infantile sexuality and of the process of sexual repression was, sociologically speaking, the first beginning of an awareness of the denial of sex which had been existing for thousands of years. This awareness was still clothed in highly academic forms and did not trust its own ability to walk. Human sexuality claimed the right to be moved from the backstairs of social life, where for thousands of years it had been leading a filthy, unhealthy, purulent existence, to the front of the shiny edifice which was so grandly called ‘culture’ and ‘civilisation’. Sex murders, criminal abortions, sexual agony of adolescents, killing of the vital forces in children, perversions galore, pornography and the vice squad, exploitation of human longing for love by greedy and vulgar business enterprises and advertising, millions of diseases, psychic and somatic, loneliness and crippling everywhere, and on top of all this, the neurotic swash-buckling of the would-be saviors of humanity–all these things could hardly be considered as ornaments of civilisation. The moral and social evaluation of the most important biological human function was in the hands of sexually frustrated ladies and vegetatively dead professors. There was, after all, no objection to the societies of sexually frustrated ladies and vegetative mummies; but one had to protest against the fact that it was exactly these mummies who not only tried to foist their attitudes upon healthy and flourishing organisms, but were actually able to do so. The disappointed and the mummies appealed to the general sexual guilt feeling and called to witness the sexual chaos and the ‘decline of civilisation and culture’. The masses of human beings knew, indeed, what was going on, but they kept silent because they were not quite sure whether their natural vital feelings might not be criminal after all. They had never heard anything different. Thus, the findings of Malinowski’s research in the South Sea islands had an extraordinarily fruitful effect. Their effect was not that of arousing the lascivious curiosity with which sexually disturbed traders reacted to the South Sea girls or raved about Hawaiian hula dances; it was serious.
As early as 1926, Malinowski, in one of his publications, rejected the concept of the biological nature of the sexual child-parent conflict discovered by Freud (i.e., the Oedipus conflict). He pointed out, correctly, that the child-parent relationship changes with social processes; that, in other words, it is of a sociological and not of a biological nature. Specifically, the family in which a child grows up is itself the result of sociological development. With the Trobriand islanders, for example, not the father, but the mother’s brother determines the upbringing of the children. This is an important characteristic of the matriarchate. The father plays only the role of a friend to his children. The Oedipus complex of the European does not exist among the Trobriand islanders. Of course, the child in the Trobriand islands also develops a family conflict with its taboos and precepts, but the laws governing behaviour are fundamentally different from those of the Europeans. Apart from an incest taboo for brother and sister, they contain no sexual restrictions. The English psychoanalyst Jones raised a sharp protest against this contention, with the counter assertion that the Oedipus complex, as found in the European, was the ‘foni et origo’ of all culture; and that, therefore, the family of today was an unalterable biological institution. In this controversy, it was simply a matter of the decisive question as to whether sexual repression is biologically determined and unalterable, or sociologically determined and alterable.
In 1929, Malinowski’s main work, ‘The Sexual Life of Savages’ appeared. It contains a wealth of material which confronted the world with the fact that sexual repression is of sociological and not of biological origin. Malinowski himself did not discuss this question in his book. All the more telling was the language of his material. In my book, ‘Der Einbruch der Sexualmoral’ I attempted to show the sociological origin of sex denial on the basis of the available ethnological material. I shall summarise the points which are relevant here:
‘Children in the Trobriand islands know no sex repression and no sexual secrecy. Their sex life is allowed to develop naturally, freely and unhampered through every stage of life, with full satisfaction. The children engage freely in the sexual activities which correspond to their age. Nonetheless, or rather, just for this reason, the society of the Trobrianders knew, in the third decade of our century, no sexual perversions, no functional psychoses, no psychoneuroses, no sex murder; they have no word for theft; homosexuality and masturbation, to them, mean nothing but an unnatural and imperfect means of sexual gratification, a sign of a disturbed capacity to reach normal satisfaction. To the children of the Trobrianders, the strict, obsessional training for excremental control which undermines the civilisation of the white race, is unknown. The Trobrianders, therefore, are spontaneously clean, orderly, social without compulsion, intelligent and industrious. The socially accepted form of sexual life is spontaneous monogamy without compulsion, a relationship which can be dissolved without difficulties; thus, there is no promiscuity.’
At the time when Malinowski made his studies of the Trobriand islanders, there was living a few miles away, on the Amphlett Islands, a tribe with patriarchal authoritarian family organisation. The people inhabiting these islands were already showing all the traits of the European neurotic, such as distrust, anxiety, neuroses, perversion, suicide, etc.
Our science, permeated by sex-negation as it is, has thus far succeeded in reducing the significance of decisive facts to zero by the simple method of presenting side by side the important and unimportant, the banal and the great, in neat coordination. The difference just mentioned, between the matriarchal, free organisation of the Trobriand islanders, and the patriarchal, authoritarian one on the Amphlett Islands, has more weight from a mental hygiene point of view than the most intricate and seemingly exact graphs of our academic world. This difference signifies: The determining factor of the mental health of a population is the condition of its natural love life.
Freud had contended that the sexual latency period of our children, between the ages of about six to twelve, was a biological phenomenon. My observations of adolescents from diverse strata of the population had shown that, given a natural development of sexuality, a latency period did not exist. Where a latency period occurs, it is an unnatural product of culture. For this statement I had been attacked by the psychoanalysts. Now it was confirmed by Malinowski: the sexual activities of the children in the Trobriand islands take place without interruption according to their respective age, without a latency period. Sexual intercourse is taken up when puberty demands it. The sexual life of the adolescents is monogamous; a change of partners takes place quietly and in an orderly manner, without violent jealousy. In strict contradistinction to our civilization, the society of the Trobrianders bestows care upon and facilitates adolescent sex life, particularly with regard to huts where they can be by themselves, and in other respects to the extent of their knowledge of natural processes.
There is only one group of children that is excluded from this natural course of events. These are the children who are predestined for a certain type of economically advantageous marriage. This kind of marriage brings economic advantages to the chief, and is the nucleus from which a patriarchal social order develops. This cross-cousin marriage is found wherever ethnological research has revealed actual or historical matriarchy (cf. e.g., Morgan, Bachofen, Engels). The children destined for this kind of marriage are, just like ours, brought up in sexual abstinence; they show neuroses and those character traits with which we are familiar in our character-neurotics. Their sexual abstinence has the function of making them submissive. Sexual suppression is an essential instrument in the production of economic enslavement.
Thus, sexual suppression in the infant and the adolescent is not, as psycho analysis-in agreement with traditional and erroneous concepts of education-contends, the prerequisite of cultural development, sociality, diligence and cleanliness; it is the exact opposite. The Trobriand islanders, with full freedom of natural sexuality, have not only attained a high degree of agriculture, but, due to the absence of secondary drives, they have maintained a general state of affairs which to any European nation of 1930 or 1940 must appear like a dream.
Healthy children show a natural spontaneous sexuality. Sick children show an unnatural, that is, perverse sexuality. The alternative with which we are confronted in the matter of sexual education is thus not: sexuality or abstinence; but: natural and healthy, or perverse and neurotic sexual life.
Sexual repression is of social-economic and not of biological origin. Its function is that of laying the foundation for authoritarian patriarchal culture and economic slavery, as we see it most clearly in Japan, China, India, etc. In the early beginnings, human sex life followed natural laws which laid the basis for a natural sociality. Since then, the period of the authoritarian patriarchy of the last four to six thousand yearn has, with the energy of the suppressed natural sexuality, created the secondary, perverse sexuality of the human of today.
It would not be too much to say that the cultural revolutions of our century are determined by the struggle of humanity for a re-establishment of the natural laws of love life. This struggle for naturalness, for unity of nature and culture, reveals itself in the diverse forms of mystical longing, cosmic phantasies, ‘oceanic’ feelings, religious ecstasis, and particularly in the progressive development of sexual freedom; it is unconscious, full of neurotic conflicts and anxiety and is apt to take the forms which characterise the secondary, perverse drives. A humanity which has been forced for millennia to act contrary to its fundamental biological law and has, therefore, acquired a second nature which is actually a counter-nature, must needs get into an irrational frenzy when it tries to restore the fundamental biological function and at the same time is afraid of it.
The patriarchal, authoritarian era in human history has attempted to keep the secondary antisocial drives in cheek with the aid of compulsive moral restrictions. Thus, what is called the cultured human came to be a living structure composed of three layers. On the surface he carries the artificial mask of self-control, of compulsive, insincere politeness and of artificial sociality. With this layer, he covers up the second one, the Freudian ‘unconscious’, in which sadism, greediness, lasciviousness, envy, perversions of all kinds, etc., are kept in check, without however, having in the least lost any of their power. This second layer is the artifact of a sex-negating culture, consciously, it is mostly experienced only as a gaping inner emptiness. Behind it, in the depths, live and work natural sociality and sexuality, spontaneous enjoyment of work, capacity for love. This third and deepest layer, representing the biological nucleus of the human structure, is unconscious and dreaded. It is at variance with every aspect of authoritarian education and regime. It is, at the same time, man is only real hope of ever mastering social misery.
All discussions of the question whether man is good or bad, a social or antisocial being, are philosophical pastimes. Whether man is a social being or an irrationally reacting mass of protoplasm, depends on whether his fundamental biological needs are in harmony or in conflict with the institutions which he has created. For this reason, it is impossible to relieve the working individual from his responsibility for the order or disorder, that is, for the economy, individual and social, of the biological energy. Passing this responsibility enthusiastically from himself to some Fžhrer or politician has become one of his essential characteristics, since he is no longer able to understand either himself or his institutions, of which he is only afraid. Fundamentally, he is helpless, incapable of freedom, and craving for authority, for he cannot react spontaneously; he is armored and expects commands, for he is full of contradictions and cannot rely on himself.
The cultivated European bourgeoisie of the 19th and early 20th century had taken over the compulsive moral forms of behavior of feudalism and made them the ideal of human behavior. Since the age of rationalism, people had begun to search for the truth and to clamor for freedom. As long as the compulsive moral institutions were in force–outside the individual as compulsive law and public opinion, inside him a compulsive conscience–there was a kind of surface calm, with occasional eruptions from the volcanic underworld of the secondary drives. So long as that was so, the secondary drives remained nothing but curiosities, of interest only to the psychiatrist. They manifested themselves as symptom neuroses, neurotic criminal acts, or as perversions. But when the social upheavals began to arouse in the Europeans the longing for freedom, independence, equality and self-determination, they were naturally impelled towards liberation of the vital forces within them. Social enlightenment and legislation, pioneer work in the social sciences, and liberal organisations, they all attempted to put ‘freedom’ into this world. After the first world war had destroyed many of the compulsive authoritarian institutions, the European democracies tried to lead mankind toward freedom.
But this European world, in its striving for freedom, made a grave miscalculation. It overlooked what the destruction of the living function in the human over thousands of years had cultivated into a monstrosity; it overlooked the deep-seated, general defect of the character-neurosis. And then, the great catastrophe of the psychic plague, that is, the catastrophe of the irrational human character, broke out in the form of the victory of the dictatorships. The forces which had been kept in check for so long by the superficial veneer of good breeding and artificial self-control, now, borne by the very multitudes that were striving for freedom, broke through into action:
In the concentration camps; in the persecution of the Jews; in the destruction of all human decency; in the mowing down of civilian populations by sadistic monsters to whom machine-gunning civilians is a delightful sport and who get a feeling of life only when parading in goose-step; in the gigantic mass deceit in which the state claims to be representing the interest of the people; in the engulfment of tens of thousands of young people who, helplessly and loyally, believed that they were serving an idea; in the destruction of billions’ worth of human work, a fraction of which would suffice to do away with poverty all over the world; in brief, in a St. Vitus dance which will continue to recur as long as the bearers of knowledge and work do not succeed in eradicating, within themselves and outside of themselves, that mass neurosis which calls itself ‘politics’ and which thrives on the characterological helplessness of human beings.
Between 1928 and 1930, at the time of the controversies with Freud above described, I had little idea of Fascism, about as little as the average Norwegian in 1939 or the average American in 1940. Only between 1930 and 1933 did I become acquainted with it in Germany. I felt perplexed when I was confronted with it and when I recognized in it, bit by bit, the subject of the controversy with Freud. Gradually I began to understand the logic in this. The controversies had dealt with an evaluation of human structure, with the role played by the human longing for happiness, and with the irrationalism in social life. In Fascism, the psychic mass disease revealed itself in an undisguised form.
The enemies of Fascism, liberal democrats, socialists, communists, Marxist and non-Marxist economists, etc., looked for an answer to the problem either in the personality of Hitler or in formal political blunders on the part of Germany’s diverse democratic parties. The one as well as the other meant to trace the psychic plague back to individual shortsightedness or to the brutality of one single man. In reality, Hitler was only the expression of a tragic conflict in the human masses, the conflict between longing for freedom and actual fear of freedom.
German Fascism said in so many words that it was operating not with the thinking and the knowledge of people, but with their infantile emotional reactions. Mat carried Fascism to power and subsequently secured its place, was neither its political program nor any of its innumerable and confused economic promises; it was essentially its appeal to an obscure mystical feeling, to an undefined, nebulous but nevertheless extremely powerful longing. Not to understand this, means not to understand Fascism, which is an international phenomenon.
The irrationality in the political strivings of the German masses can be illustrated in terms of the following contradictions.
The German masses wanted ‘freedom’. Hitler promised them absolute, authoritarian leadership with the explicit exclusion of any expression of opinion. Out of thirty-one million voters, seventeen million jubilantly carried Hitler to power in March, 1933. Those who looked at things with open eyes knew: The masses of people felt helpless and incapable of taking the responsibility for the solution of the chaotic social problems within the old political system and frame of thinking. The Fžhrer should and would do it for them.
Hitler promised the abolition of democratic discussion of opinion. The masses of people came running to him. They had long since grown tired of these discussions, because they had always evaded their personal everyday concerns, that is, that which was subjectively important. They did not want discussions of ‘the budget’ or of ‘high diplomacy’; they wanted actual, true knowledge about their own lives. When they did not get that, they gave themselves over to authoritarian leadership and the illusionary protection which was promised to them.
Hitler promised the abolition of the freedom of the individual and the establishment of the ‘freedom of the nation’. Enthusiastically, the masses of people exchanged their potentialities for individual freedom for illusionary freedom, that is, freedom through identification with an idea; they did so because this illusionarv freedom relieved them of any individual responsibility. They craved a ‘freedom’ which the Führer should conquer for them and guarantee to them: the freedom to howl, to escape from the truth into a fundamental falsehood, to be sadistic, to brag–though one was in actuality a cipher–about one’s superior race, to impress girls with uniforms instead of strong human qualities, to sacrifice oneself for imperialistic goals instead of the actual struggles of everyday life, etc., etc.
The previous education of the masses of people towards the recognition of a formal, political authority instead of an authority based on factual knowledge formed the soil in which the Fascist demand for authority could readily strike roots. Fascism, therefore, was not a new kind of philosophy, as its friends and many of its enemies wanted us to believe; much less even does it have anything to do with a rational revolution against intolerable social conditions; Fascism is nothing but the extreme reactionary consequence of all undemocratic types of leadership of the past. Neither is the race theory anything new; it is nothing but the consistently and brutally applied continuation of the old theories of heredity and degeneration. It is for this reason that the psychiatrists of the hereditarian school and the eugenicists of the old school were particularly accessible to Fascism.
What is new in the Fascist movement is the fact that the extreme political reaction succeeded in making use of the deep longings of the masses of people for freedom. Intense longing for freedom plus fear of the responsibility of freedom results in Fascist mentality, no matter whether it is found in a Fascist or a Democrat.
What is new in Fascism is that the masses of people themselves assented to their own subjugation and actively brought it about. The craving for authority proved stronger than the wish for independence.
Hitler promised the subjugation of woman to man, the abolition of her economic independence, her exclusion from the process of determining social life, and her relegation to the home and hearth. The women, whose individual freedom had been suppressed for centuries and who had developed the fear of an independent way of living in a particularly high degree, were the first to hail him.
Hitler promised the abolition of socialist and democratic organisations. The socialist and democratic masses hastened to him because their organisations, though they had done a great deal of talking about freedom, had not as much as mentioned the difficult problem of human craving for authority and their helplessness in matters of practical politics. The masses of people were disillusioned by the irresolute attitude of the old democratic institutions. Disillusionment in the liberal organisations plus economic crisis plus tremendous urge for freedom result in Fascist mentality, that is, in the willingness of the people to surrender to an authoritarian father figure.
Hitler promised the sharpest measures against contraception and the sexual reform movement. In the Germany of 1932, there were about 500,000 people in organisations which struggled for a rational sex reform. Yet, these organizations never dared to touch upon the core of the problem, namely, the longing for sexual happiness. I know from many years work among the masses that this is exactly what they were looking for. They were disappointed when one gave them learned talks about eugenics, instead of telling them how they could bring up their children to be lively and uninhibited, how adolescents could cope with their sexual and economic problems, and how married people could deal with their typical conflicts. The masses of people seemed to feel that the advice about the ‘technique of love-making’, such as given by Van de Velde, might be profitable to the publisher, but that it did not really touch their problems, nor did they feel that it was in any way a response to their problems. Thus it happened that the disappointed masses hastened to Hitler who, though in a mystical way, appealed to deeply vital forces. Sermonizing about freedom, without the constant, resolute struggle to set the responsibility involved in freedom into operation in the occurrences of everyday life, together with the social prerequisites of such freedom, leads to Fascism.
For decades, German science had been struggling to achieve the separation of the concept of sexuality from that of procreation. Of this struggle, the working masses of people knew nothing, for it was stored away in academic volumes and therefore had no social effect. Now Hitler promised to make procreation, and not happiness in love, the basic principle of his cultural program. Brought up not to call a spade a spade and to say eugenic improvement of the racial stock when they meant ‘happiness in love’, the masses of people hastened to Hitler, because he attached to the old concept a strong, though irrational, emotion. Reactionary concepts plus revolutionary emotion result in Fascist mentality.
The church had preached ‘happiness in the hereafter’ and had, with the aid of the concept of sin, deeply implanted in the human structure the helpless dependence on an omnipotent supernatural figure. But the economic crisis of 1929 to 1933 had confronted the masses of people with the most acute earthly want. They were unable to master this want themselves, either socially or individually. Hitler came along, declaring himself a God-sent earthly Fžhrer, omnipotent and omniscient, who would be able to eradicate the earthly misery. The stage was prepared for new masses of people to acclaim him, people who were hemmed in between their own individual helplessness and the small gratification provided by the idea of happiness in the hereafter. An earthly God who made them shout ‘Heil’ at the top of their lungs meant more to them emotionally than a God whom they never could see and who no longer helped them even emotionally. Sadistic brutality plus mysticism results in Fascist mentality.
Germany, in its schools and universities, had been struggling for decades for the principle of the ‘freie Schulgemeinde’, for modern spontaneous achievement and self-government of the student. The democratic authorities responsible for education were unable to outgrow those authoritarian principles which instilled in the student a fear of authority and at the same time a rebelliousness which took on every possible irrational form. Liberal educational organizations not only lacked the protection of society, but they were, instead, constantly threatened in their existence by all kinds of reactionary bodies, and were dependent on private subsidies. So it was not surprising that these beginnings in the direction of a new structural formation of the mass of people remained nothing but a drop in the bucket. Youth ran to Hitler in masses. He did not impose any responsibility on them, but he built upon their structure as it had been evolved by means of the authoritarian family. Hitler obtained a firm grip on the youth movement because democratic society had failed to do everything in its power to educate youth towards a way of living in which they took responsibility for their freedom.
In the place of voluntary achievement, Hitler promised the principle of compulsive discipline and work as duty. Several millions of German workers and employees cast their vote for Hitler. The democratic institutions had not only failed to cope with unemployment; they had shown themselves definitely afraid of actually leading the working masses of people towards actual responsibility for their achievement in work. They had been brought up not to understand anything of the process of work or the totality of the process of production, and simply to receive their pay envelopes. Thus, these millions of workers and employees did not find it difficult to submit to Hitler’s principle; it was nothing but the old principle in an accentuated form. Now they were able to identify themselves with ‘the state’ or ‘the nation’ which was ‘in their place’ ‘great and strong’. Hitler, in his writings and speeches, declared openly that the masses of people only give back what is being poured into them, because they are, basically, infantile and feminine. The masses of people hailed him; for here was one who was going to protect them.
Hitler decreed the subordination of all science under the concept of ‘race’. Major sections of German science submitted, for the theory of race had its roots in the metaphysical theory of heredity; a theory which, with the aid of the concepts of ‘inherited substances’ and ‘Anlagen’ had again and again enabled science to evade the duty of trying to understand the development of living functions and of comprehending in its actuality the social origin of human behavior. There used to be a general belief that when one stated that cancer, or neuroses or psychoses, were of hereditary origin, one had really said something. The Fascist theory of race is only a continuation of the convenient theories of heredity.
There is hardly any other slogan of German Fascism that fired the masses of people as much as the slogan of the ‘throbbing of German blood’ and its ‘purity’. The purity of the German blood means freedom from syphilis, from ‘Jewish contamination’. The fear of venereal disease, as a continuation of infantile genital anxiety, is deeply rooted in every single mortal. Thus it is understandable that the masses of people acclaimed Hitler, for he promised them ‘purity of blood’. Every human being feels in himself what is called ‘cosmic’ or ‘oceanic’ feelings. Dry academic science felt itself too superior to concern itself with such ‘mysticisms’. But, this cosmic or oceanic yearning in people is nothing but the expression of their orgastic longing for life. Hitler appealed to this longing. Therefore, the masses acclaimed him and not the dry rationalists who tried to stifle these obscure feelings for life with economic statistics.
In Europe, the ‘preservation of the family’ had always been an abstract slogan behind which were hidden the most reactionary mentality and behavior. He who dared to distinguish between authoritarian compulsive family and natural love relationship between children and parents, was considered an ‘enemy of the fatherland’, a ‘destroyer of the sacred institution of the family’, an outlaw. There was no official agency which would have dared to point out what was pathological in the family, or would have dared to do something about the suppression of the children through the parents, about family hatreds, etc. The typical authoritarian German family, particularly in the country and small town, bred Fascist mentality by the million. This family created in the children a structure characterized by compulsive duty, renunciation and absolute obedience to authority which Hitler knew so splendidly how to exploit. By advocating the ‘preservation of the family’ and at the same time taking youth out of the family and putting them in its own youth groups, Fascism took into account the fixation to the family as well as the rebellion against the family. Because Fascism emphatically impressed on the people the emotional identity of ‘family’, ‘state’, and ‘nation’, the familial structure of the people could easily he continued in the Fascist, national one. True, this did not solve one single problem of the actual family or the actual needs of the nation, but it made it possible for the masses of people to transfer their family ties from the compulsive family to the larger ‘family’ called ‘nation’. ‘Mother Germany’ and ‘Father-God-Hitler’ became the symbols of deeply rooted infantile emotions. Now, in his identification with the ‘strong and unique German nation’, every ordinary mortal, with all his misery and inferiority feelings, could be ‘something big’, even if it was in an illusionary manner. Finally, the ideology of the ‘race’ succeeded in harnessing the sexual energies and in diverting them. The adolescents were now able to have sexual intercourse, if they believed–or pretended to believe–that they were begetting children in the interest of improving the race.
The natural vital forces not only continued to be kept from developing, but, in addition, to the extent to which they could manifest themselves, had to do so now in much more disguised forms than ever before. As a result of this ‘revolution of the irrational’, there were in Germany more suicides and more social misery than ever before. The mass death in the war for the glory of the German race is the apotheosis of this witches’ dance.
Hand in hand with the longing for ‘purity of blood’, i.e., liberation from sin, goes the persecution of the Jews. The Jews tried to explain or to prove that they too were moral, that they too belonged to the nation, or that they too were ‘German’. Anti-Fascist anthropologists attempted by way of skull measurements to prove that the Jews were not an inferior race. Christians and historians tried to point out that Jesus was of Jewish origin. But-it was not a matter of rational problems at all; that is, it was not a question of whether the Jews too were decent people, whether they were not Inferior or whether they had proper skull sizes. The problem lay somewhere else entirely. It was just at this point that the consistency and correctness of sex-economic thinking proved itself.
When the Fascist says ‘Jew’ he means a certain irrational feeling. As one can convince oneself in every treatment, of Jews and Non-Jews, which penetrates deeply enough, the ‘Jew’ has the irrational significance of the ‘money-maker’, the ‘usurer’, the ‘capitalist’. On a deeper level, ‘Jew’ means ‘filthy’, ‘sensual’, ‘brutally lustful’, but also ‘Shylock’, ‘castrator’, ‘slaughterer’. The fear of natural sexuality is as deeply rooted in all humans as is the horror of perverse sexuality. Thus we can easily understand that the persecution of the Jews, so cleverly executed, stirred up the deepest antisexual defense functions of the antisexually brought up individual. Thus, the ideology of the ‘Jews’ made it possible to harness the anticapitalist as well as the antisexual attitudes of the masses and put them completely at the service of the Fascist machinery.
Unconscious longing for sexual happiness and sexual purity, plus simultaneous fear of normal sexuality and abhorrence of perverse sexuality, results in Fascist sadistic anti-semitism. ‘The Frenchman’ has the same meaning to the German as ‘the Jew’ and ‘the negro’ to the unconsciously Fascist Englishman. ‘Jew’, ‘Frenchman’, ‘negro’ have the meaning of ‘sexually sensual’.
And so it happened that the modern ‘sex reformer’ sexual psychopath and criminal pervert Julius Streicher was able to put his paper, ‘Der Sturmer’, into the hands of millions of German adolescents and adults. Nothing could demonstrate more clearly than the ‘Sturmer’ the fact that sexual hygiene has long ceased to be a problem restricted to medical circles; that, rather, it has become a problem of decisive social significance. The following samples of Streicher’s imagination, quoted from the ‘Stiirmer’, may illustrate the above:
‘Helmut Daube, 20, had just graduated from college. He went home around 2 AM, and at 5 AM his parents found his dead body in front of the house. The throat was cut straight through to the spinal column, the genitals were removed. There was no blood. The hands were cut up. The lower abdomen showed several knife blows’.
‘One day, the old Jew attacked the unsuspecting Non-Jewess, raped and desecrated her. As time went on, he would sneak into her room whenever he pleased; the door could not be locked’.
‘A young couple, taking a walk outside of Paderborn, came upon a hunk of flesh right in the middle of the road. On closer examination, they found to their horror that it was a female genital which had been anatomically dissected from the body.’
‘The Jew had cut up the woman into pieces weighing about a pound. Together with his father, he had scattered the pieces all over the neighborhood. They were found in a little woods, in the meadows, on tree stumps, in a pool, in a brook, in a sewer, and in the cesspool. The cut-off breasts were lying in the hay loft.’
‘While Moses throttled with a handkerchief the child which Samuel put on his knees, the latter took a knife and cut a piece off the child’s jaw. The others collected the blood in a bowl, at the same time stabbing the naked victim with pins’.
‘The woman’s resisting did not check his lust, on the contrary. He tried to shut the window so that the neighbors could not look in. But then he touched the woman again in a vile, typically Jewish manner. . . . He talked to her urgently, saying she should not be so prudish. He locked windows and doors. His words and his behavior became more and more shameless. More and more he cornered his victim. When she threatened to cry for help, he only laughed, and more and more he pushed her toward the couch. From his mouth came the lewdest and vilest expressions. Then, like a tiger, he leaped upon the female body, to finish his devilish work’.
Up to this point in this book, many readers undoubtedly thought that I was exaggerating when I spoke of the psychic plague. I can only assure them that I did not introduce this term frivolously nor as a neat figure of speech. I mean it very seriously. In millions and millions of people, German and otherwise, the ‘Sturmer’, during the past seven years, has not only confirmed their genital castration anxiety, but, in addition, has stimulated to a tremendous degree the perverse phantasies which lie dormant in everybody. After the downfall of the principal standard bearers of the psychic plague in Europe, it will remain to be seen how one can cope with this problem. It is not a German but an international problem, because genital anxiety and longing for love are international facts. Fascist youths, who had maintained a bit of natural feeling for life, came to see me in Scandinavia and asked me what attitude they should take toward Streicher, the theory of race and all the other outcroppings of the time. There was something wrong there, they said. I summarised the most necessary measures in the following outline:
‘What is to be done?
‘Generally: This reactionary obscenity must be counteracted by a well organised and factually correct enlightenment concerning the difference between healthy and pathological sexuality. Every average individual will understand the difference, because he has felt it in himself. Every average individual is ashamed of his perverse, pathological ideas of sex and longs for clarity, help and natural sexual gratification.
‘Specifically: We must enlighten and help. This can be done in the following ways:
‘1. Collection of all the material which makes the pornographic character of Streicherism self-evident to any thinking person. Distribution of it in hand-bills. The healthy sexual interest of the masses of people must be aroused, made conscious and be supported.
‘2. Collection and distribution of all the material that will show the population that Streicher and his accomplices are psychopaths themselves, and are jeopardising the health of the people. There are Streichers everywhere in the world.
‘3. Uncovering of the secret of Streicher’s influence on the people: he stimulates their pathological phantasies. The population will be grateful for good explanatory material and will read it.
‘4. The only way of combatting that pathological sexuality which forms the fertile soil for Hitler’s theory of race and for Streicher’s criminal activity is to contrast it to the natural sexual processes and attitudes. The people will immediately grasp the difference and will show burning interest in it, once they are shown what it is that they really want and only do not dare to express. For example:
‘a. An absolute prerequisite for a healthy, satisfactory sex life is the possibility of being alone with one’s partner, without being disturbed. That means: adequate housing for all those who are in need of it, including youth.
‘b. Sexual gratification is not identical with procreation. The healthy individual has sexual intercourse some three to four thousand times during his life, but an average of only two or three children. Contraceptives are an absolute necessity for sexual health.
‘c. The vast majority of men as well as women are sexually disturbed as a result of a training which inhibits their sexuality; that is, they are not satisfied in sexual intercourse. What is necessary, therefore, is the establishment of a sufficient number of clinics for the treatment of sexual disturbances. What is necessary, is a rational sex education which will affirm the validity of love.
‘d. Youth is made ill by its conflicts about masturbation. Masturbation is harmless to health only when it is not accompanied by guilt feelings. Youth has a right to a happy sex life under the best of conditions. Chronic sexual abstinence is definitely harmful. Pathological phantasies disappear only with a satisfactory sex life. Fight for this right!’
I know that hand-bills and enlightenment alone will not do. What is necessary is work on the human structure, on a broad basis and with the protection Of society; work on this structure which produces the psychic plague, which makes it possible for psychopaths to function as dictators and modem ‘sex reformers’. In one word, what is necessary is the liberation of natural sexuality in the masses of people and its underwriting by society.
In 1930, human sexuality was a Cinderella of society, no more than an object of dubious reform bodies. By 1940, it has become a cornerstone of social problems. If it is correct that Fascism, in an irrational manner but successfully, utilised the sexual longings of the masses of people and thus created chaos, then it must be correct that the perversions which it allowed to erupt can be banished by a universal rational solution of the problem of sexuality.
The events in Europe between 1930 and 1940 in all their profusion of mental hygiene problems confirmed my point of view in the controversy with Freud. The painful thing about this confirmation is the feeling of powerlessness, and the knowledge that natural science is still far from comprehending what in this book 1 termed the ‘biological nucleus’ of character structure.
By and large, we, as humans as well as physicians and teachers, are as helpless in the face of the biological aberrations of life, as, say, the humans of the middle ages were in the face of infectious diseases. At the same time we feel in ourselves that the experiencing of the Fascist plague will mobilize those forces in the world which are needed to solve this problem of civilisation.
The Fascists make the claim of carrying out the ‘biological revolution’. What is correct is that Fascism has put before us in unmistakable form the fact that the vital functions of the human have become thoroughly neurotic. In Fascism there operates, at least from the point of view of the masses of its adherents, a tremendous will to life. However, the forms in which this will to life has manifested itself has shown only too clearly the results of an ancient psychic enslavement. For the time being, only the perverse drives have broken through. The post-Fascist world will carry out the biological revolution which Fascism did not create but which it made necessary.
The ensuing chapters of this volume discuss the functions of the ‘biological nucleus’. Its scientific comprehension and the social mastery of the problem presented by it, will be an achievement of rational work, militant science and natural love function, of truly democratic, courageous and collective efforts. Their goal is the earthly happiness, material and sexual, of the masses of people.