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Wilhelm Reich's Mass Psychology of Fascism Revisited

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(Originally Published 5-5-2010 on "Yahoo Voices")
The Scam: A Modified Reichian Model or the Great Orgone Ripoff Continued 

Wilhelm Reich wrote "The Mass Psychology of Fascism" as he watched the birth and fruition of Hitler's vision from within Nazi Germany
. Reducing and modifying his theories on the use of sexual repression by authoritarian systems, and doing justice to the horrific vision revealed in this volume of nearly 400 pages, is nearly impossible.  

The Mass Psychology of Fascism is not required reading in all college-level psychology courses; this in itself is a crime against humanity.
However, the most basic elements of "The Scam" can be easily identified in present-day American and global culture. The effectiveness of The Scam as large-group behavioral manipulation and control is apparent, as various forms of fascism, theocracy, and authoritarian socialism compete, clash, blend, and mutate, all for the profit of the reigning ideology, Global Corporatism (or "The Ruling Class," "The New World Order," etc.), and its acquisitions, such as the US Government.
The Scam goes like this:

"What you want, and what you need, are bad, dirty, unholy, impure, and anti-social things; you can't have them."

"What we have for you are good, clean, responsible, holy, pure, and socially responsible things."

"What you really want, and what you really need, is what we have to give."

"You can have what we have to give, but only if you do as you are told."

The Scam depends on two fundamental elements:

a. Deprivation
b. Substitution

The control system creates a sense of deprivation in by cutting its subjects off from basic biological needs.  Substitutes, or satisfaction of the actual needs, are made available contingent on the subject's ability and willingness to "produce" according to the current demands of the control system.

Willhelm Reich believed that the repression of sexuality, common to authoritarian states, cultures, and religions, manufactured a need that could only be satisfied by the control system.

Although Nazi Germany produced much in the way of pornography, and sexual decadence and drug use was rampant within the upper echelons of the Third Reich, for the masses, chastity and repressed sexuality were promoted as virtues, with women reduced to virtual breeding machines for the "Master Race."

Wilhelm Reich depicted the Hitler rallies as mass orgasm substitutes; the Third Reich succeeded in redirecting this most powerful of instincts, using it to inspire blind obedience and joyful willingness to kill and die for the fatherland.

While the various fascist/theocratic movements of the 21st century continue to condemn open expressions of sexuality and oppress women blatantly, the "liberated" media culture of the modern world promotes sexuality, creating cognitive dissonance through conflict with the repressive traits of religion, state, and "the workplace," while turning the satisfaction of sexual need into a commodity. The quality of the individual's sex life, the attractiveness of their partners (or lack thereof), and even the ability to have a sex life at all is determined by the ability to purchase various products. The ability to purchase these products is incentive to obey and produce.

What do the ads on TV tell you?

A few prevalent themes are:

1. Buy this and you will have really great sex.

2. If you don't buy this you won't have sex.

3. Attractive sex partners choose persons who purchase the product.

4. Attractive sex partners don't choose "losers" (persons unable or unwilling to purchase the product).

5. If you want to be attractive as a sex partner, purchase this product....

The number of permutations and combinations of these themes is potentially infinite, the unifying theme of sexual gratification through consumption remains visible through all. Death, and the avoidance or hastening thereof, is another commonly used trigger.
However, these messages do more than promote the purchase of consumer goods, and the production/consumption cycle in itself is just one aspect of The Scam.

The function of The Scam is Orgone Theft. Reich defined the basic energy of all life with the term "Orgone Energy." When this energy, naturally expressed in sexuality, art, voluntary physical activity, and contact with the natural world, is blocked, it creates neurosis, disease, tyranny and war.

From the moment a child is placed in containment in the early-life prison known as a "school," and told to repress and apply their energy according to the will of adult authority, the process of orgone theft by a control system has begun.

The terms "adolescence" and "rebellion" are connected almost to the point of being synonymous. The explosion of pure energy and raw sexual need, combined with the longing for freedom, self-expression, and experience of life in the natural world, clashes with the social order's conventions and directives.The manner in which this naturally occurring conflict is dealt with depends on community standards and norms, prevailing religious views, family structure, and other cultural factors. In modernist western media-culture this rebellion usually is commodified and co-opted, then re-marketed to its own source. "They got you thinking that buying is rebelling..." (Zack DeLaRocha)

Depending on the race, class, and culture of the youth involved, more heavy-handed tactics may be used; the use of police and prisons creates a violent, apolitically rebellious culture. This in turn increases fear and the craving for authority in the masses, while simultaneously generating marketable cultural commodities ("gangsta rap" for instance).

However, for Orgone Theft to proceed at peak efficiency, the longing for freedom and the creation of life must be diverted, and transformed into voluntary enslavement, in service of the manufacture of death.  The necessary behavioral traits--obedience and conformity--are presented as the keys to the awards offered by the control system.

"The armed forces have always placed military effectiveness above individual needs"--Rep Gene Taylor, D-Mississippi Quoted for Rep Taylor's Website, 2-21-2010.  


Although Rep Taylor made this comment in the context of a debate over whether homosexuals should be allowed to serve in the US military, it defines an essential quality of fascism and militarism--the sacrifice of the individual to "effectiveness." Although there is absolutely no evidence that homosexuality in and of itself would make any military unit less adept at the task of killing, there is reason to believe that expressions of individuality and "deviance" in general interfere with production, whether the product is consumer goods, weapons, or corpses.
A social order dominated by the economic imperative of perpetual war, and war-related expenditures, will sacrifice individual needs, and individuals--as many a necessary--in the pursuit of its objectives.

Reich: " For some reason or another, man shies away from putting his fingers on the causes of war..." (p.318)

Man does search for the causes of war, or at least pretends to. The strange and ugly underlying truth is what conventional thinkers do not want to put their fingers on, or even "touch with a ten-foot pole."

Among the causes of wars, including territorial disputes, acquisition and control of resources, ideological or religious disputes, and even the championing of liberal ideals and the defense of human rights, repressed, frustrated, and deformed sexuality among "leaders of men" may always be found. The quest for pure dominance, at one distant time linked to the reproductive drive and the ability of dominant males to mate, is the sole motivating factor among those responsible at the highest levels for the perpetuation of this ritual blood-sacrifice.

Even when a nation fights a just and justifiable war, the effectiveness of this nation's forces depends on the same repression and deformation of biological drives. Voluntary military service is sold as a path to fitness, personal growth, and self improvement. Parents are convinced to send their children to their deaths on the premise that if they return, they will be "Army Strong." This sales pitch is a very old one too.

Reich continues "And there can be no doubt that better ways than war exist of making youth fit and healthy; namely, a satisfying love life, pleasurable and steady work, general sports, and freedom from the malicious gossip of old maids. In short, such arguments are hollow chatter."


Yet young people keep falling for this same version of The Scam, and the institution of the War State and its rulers appears almost to be a function of natural law, rather than a complex system of controlled behaviors and core beliefs. Throughout history, the most basic and fundamental property right has been negated, through notions of virtue and obligation. That right is the sole ownership of one's own body and the control thereof.

When there is no compulsory military service, various social and economic incentives are brought into play, with money, education, and the admiration of one's peers and families presented as bait. Images of wounded, maimed, and dead soldiers, and of flag-draped coffins, have in recent times been pushed aside, out of the media's tunnel vision, so as not to lessen the public's enthusiasm for war. Of course fraudulent and  profit-based wars will in time be seen for what they are by the majority of citizens, but this usually comes after the damage has been done, and the profits counted and divided among the promoters and investors. 
Voluntary military service is also obtained for the implicit promise of sexual gratification (the function of rape in war is downplayed and depicted is a thing of the past, but the practice continues). While the military presents an increasingly puritanical and sexually repressive face to the public (the banning of Playboy and other "men's magazines" from military bases for example), the life of women in war zones, even the abuse of female soldiers by their male peers, depicts a different reality.

The right of the individual to his or her own body, the right of the young to refuse to fight, and the right of women to choose their own sex partners and refuse to have sex as they see fit, is rendered null and void by the facts of war, regardless of the rules of engagement.
    
Reich: "It boils down to this: As a result of thousands of years of social and educational distortion, masses of people have become biologically rigid and incapable of freedom. They are not capable of establishing peaceful coexistence." (p 319, italics in original) 

As sad and outrageous as the above statement may seem, one needs only to take a look around in the present moment, and examine what has transpired since Wilhelm Reich wrote these words, to see the fundamental truth of them.

    
We find the same basic set of characters at the heart of man-made atrocities and disasters throughout history. While the public statements and ideological loyalties may vary, at the heart of the crime is addiction. The addiction may be to profit, political power, dominance-based sexual gratification (so often seen in the sex lives of the powerful), or even a genuine adherence to an idea or religious doctrine. The commonality that binds these addictions together is the need to control other human beings, to the point overriding and dominating their most basic biological imperatives.

    
The addiction to control is terminal and has no other purpose than feeding itself. In the words of author and "Master Addict to Dangerous Drugs," William S. Burroughs (himself a student of Willhelm Reich's works): " "You see, control can never be a means to any practical end.... It can never be a means to anything but more control.... Like junk...." (Naked Lunch p.148-149)

The nominal system of governance and economic exchange has little actual effect on the observable effects of the practice of "governing," with "socialist" despots racking up body counts as masterfully as their capitalist, fascist, and neo-feudalist/theocratic counterparts. To supply a continually increasing addiction to control, it is inevitable that killing will be required in the service of the addiction.

    
When idealists confront the apologists of such arrangements with the real-world results of their theories, "necessary evils" are often mentioned. This term is usually used by the evil to convince the masses that their actions, and that they themselves, are somehow necessary.

The mass production of death, driven by the stolen orgones of the subordinate classes, is real, but it is anything but unavoidable and "necessary." The production of nuclear weapons and "peaceful" nuclear energy, along with the release of radioactive and toxic waste, and the end product, human corpses, markers of the practice of "governing" that surround the orgone thieves--the "control addicts"--much as used syringes gradually cover the floor of a drug user in the terminal phase of an I.V. addiction--are considered acceptable and desirable results by the Scam Artists.

    
Reich moved beyond the simple and mechanistic explanations offered by believers in the "Political/Economic" reality model. For instance, the Marxian analysis of this phenomenon reduces much of orgone theft to the simple reality of economic exploitation of labor, the fact of workers getting paid a good deal less than the amount of capital generated by their labors. The capitalist will counter that these phenomena are all the result of entirely voluntary contractual relationships entered into by consenting parties.

    
The idea that such transactions involve a surrender of biological energy to a parasitic or viral mechanism, and are distinct manifestations of a repressed and distorted sexuality on the part of all involved, was a bit more than the political thinkers of Reich's day could handle; actually, little has changed in the way political theorists view Reich and his work since his death.

However, when we observe the sexual proclivities of persons placed in positions of power and control over other human beings, we can see these principles at work. Priests and altar-boys, heads of state and their dalliances with prostitutes and subordinates, and the insistence within the neo-feudal theocratic movements of complete domination of females by males both in society and marriage, are but a few ugly signs of the sexual nature of authoritarianism.

Reich, a renegade scientist and modern-day heretic, caught power with its pants down and challenged the ancient and deadly slave-culture lies with which the pathology of power perpetuates itself.

As political and economic "issues" come and go, what remains constant is the demand for tribute in the form of time, energy, and, with depressing predictability, the destruction of life, of one's own life and that of a designated enemy at the command of a "leader."

Human beings continue to surrender their most basic and fundamental rights, and become willing and cooperative victims and the theft of their most precious possessions, including time itself. Time spent in the service of a control system is time lost, sold perhaps for an hourly, bi-weekly, or yearly price. Time cannot be purchased back.

The control addicts murder their "marks" openly and suddenly with wars, executions, and assassinations. The controls systems also murder by degree as minutes of stolen and destroyed lives pass by. The marks live on in a world of strangled desires and tiny rewards that resemble fragments of actual life.

The odds are that when as a child you asked "why?" or raised some objection to one of innumerable insults and obligatory rituals of humiliation through obedience of early life, you were told "because everyone does," or "because everyone has to," which, unlike the blunt and practical "because I said so," are lies. The trivialization or outright condemnation of your basic needs and wants, and the surrender of self to a deadly abstraction, started at that point.

At this point, it becomes almost impossible to draw a distinction between "the common good," and "caring for others," and what in actuality are merely the demands of the Scam Artists. Anyone born into any one of the subordinate classes, even the higher ones, will be exhorted to "produce," and "make a contribution," which fall within the larger abstraction of "duty."
It matters not whether one looks to the nominal "Right":

"In a mystic theory of ethics, 'duty' stands for the notion that man must obey the dictates of a supernatural authority. Even though the anti-concept has been secularized, and the authority of God's will has been ascribed to earthly entities, such as parents, country, State, mankind, etc., their alleged supremacy still rests on nothing but a mystic edict. Who in the hell can have right to claim that sort of submission or obedience? This is the only proper form-and locality--for the question, because nothing and no one can have such a right or claim here on earth."-Ayn Rand from "Philosophy, Who Needs It?" p114

Or "Left":

"Society is saved just as often as the circle of its rulers contracts, as a more exclusive interest is maintained against a wider one. Every demand of the simplest bourgeois financial reform, of the most ordinary liberalism, of the most formal republicanism, of the most shallow democracy, is simultaneously castigated as an 'attempt on society' and stigmatized as 'socialism.' And finally the high priests of 'religion and order' themselves are driven with kicks from their Pythian tripods, hauled out of their beds in the darkness of night, put in prison vans, thrown into dungeons or sent into exile; their temple is razed to the ground, their mouths are sealed, their pens broken, their law torn to pieces in the name of religion, of property, of the family, of order. Bourgeois fanatics for order are shot down on their balconies by mobs of drunken soldiers, their domestic sanctuaries profaned, their houses bombarded for amusement--in the name of property, of the family, of religion, and of order. Finally, the scum of bourgeois society forms the holy phalanx of order...." -Karl Marx "The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte"


Thinkers can readily define the sacrifice of life, reason and sanity to deadly abstractions, mere buzzwords and phrases that somehow have gained a greater significance than the individual's drives for survival, satisfaction, and the freedom required for their pursuit.

It's a scam. The game is rigged. No one wants to be a loser, but no one ever really wins except the "house". It's time to stop playing. It's time to tell the players, "game over, you lose," and take back our time and our right to spend it as we please, in nature, in expressions of sexuality, love, art, and work of our own choosing. 

The alternative, willing complicity in the theft of our own orgones, can do nothing but feed the addictions of the thanatocentric "leaders," while more blood and oil spills, and mass extinction becomes an inevitability.

References/Bibliography:
Burroughs, William S. "Naked Lunch" 1959, Grove Press NY, NY

De LaRocha, Zack of "Rage Against the Machine" "No Shelter," 1999 Retribution Music, Sony/ATV Songs

Marx, Karl: The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte translated by Saul K. Padover from the German edition of 1869

Rand Ayn "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" Quoted in "The Ayn Rand Lexicon" Harry Binswanger Ed. 1988 Penguin/Meridian, NY NY

Reich, Wilhelm: The Mass Psychology of Fascism 1946, Copyright 1970 by Mary Boyd Higgins as Trustee of the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust Fund, Simon and Schuster/Touchstone, NY NY

 

http://www.freneticmemetics.com

I was born in NYC in 1959. I grew up in the DC area, the product of suburbia and liberal parents with doctoral-level educations. I dropped out of the public school system in eighth grade, and from all schooling by the age of 16. My life rapidly (more...)
 

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