The Mass Psychology of Fascism
In this classic study, Reich provides insight into the phenomenon of fascism, which continues to ravage the international community in ways great and small.
Drawing on his medical experiences with men and women of various classes, races, nations, and religious beliefs, Reich refutes the still generally held notion that fascism is a specific characteristic of certain nationa...more
Writing near the end of WWII and having Hitler and Mussolini as case studies served as the catalyst for this work, but was not the only focus of analysis. In addition to European fascism, he took a close look at Russia post-revolution and how the best intentions led to the same old collapse into an autocratic me ...more
Some reasons why you should read this:
-Reich is one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry
-many of the ideas here were reprised by current humanities champions Foucault and Deleuze.
-banned by the Nazis and the US
-but mainly to to try to understand why many (including myself) think that Reich was right when he said: It is the mechanistic-mystical character of modern man that produces fascist parties, and not vice versa.
There are some negatives though. It has a complete ignorance ...more
As you may know, Reich was a student of Freud who's now known as a colorful crackpot (or, in California, a genius) who believed sexual life-energy could cure cancer, change the weather, etc. He was also a crusading anti-fascist and anti-Stalinist, and he thought dangerous politics were a side effect of unconscious contradictions in so ...more
Suppression of the natural sexuality in the child, particularly of its genital sexuality, makes the child apprehensive, shy, obedient, afraid of authority, good and adjusted in the authoritarian sense; it paralyzes the rebellious forces because any rebellion is laden with anxiety; it produces, by inhibiting sexual curiosity and sexual thinking in the child, a general inhibition of thinking and of critical faculties. In brief, the goal of ...more
In other words it's not enough to blame Hitler or the Nazis ...more
Some of his analyses unfortunately can be repetitive to the point exhaustion and at other times he presents his conclusions as complete and holistic when they actually focus too narrowly on a particular dimension of social life.
Much of the work i ...more
However, I fully agree with Martin Kitchen's assessment in "Fascism"(1976):
'an extraordinary book which combines brilliant insight with passages of pure nonsense".
Reich raises a few important questions, ("why did the Social Revolution of 1917 fail?""why is the worker not conscious of his condition?""is freedom for the mass really impossible?" etc.) but sometimes his answers are too deterministic and way too narrow.
Also, it would be extremely interesting to read an analy ...more
There are many terrific insights in this p ...more
At this time in our history, I definitely recommend reading that preface because the mass psychology of fascism is all around us right now....
These are mostly notes on the first chapter, with Reich's project in this book bolded. If you can get past the psychoanalytic babble and weird sex talk (those almost always coincide), it's a great work that Deleuze eventually took over, with both considering a disturbing question: Is fascism a product of ignorance, or something the unconscious can manufacture desire for?
Here it is. The last paragraph descends into absurdity, which I believe is appropriate when reviewing an old pro-psychoanalysis...more
I really wish we could give half stars, because this is a bit better than a three, but not quite a four, if only because Freudian theories of anything are woefully oversimplified. Then again, we humans ARE awfully fucked up about sex (pun intended), and there's a lot of merit here to Reich's main argument: if we weren't so gorram uptight about our drives and desires, manipulative leaders wouldn't be able to u ...more
Reich was a respected analyst for much of his life, focusing on character structure, rather than on individual neurotic symptoms. He promoted adolescent sexuality, the availability of contraceptives and abortion, and the importance for women of economic independence. Synthesizing material from psychoanalysis, cultural anthropology, economics, ...more