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The Mass Psychology of Fascism The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich
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“Open avowal of dictatorship is much less dangerous than sham democracy. The first one can fight; sham democracy is insidious.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“Originally and naturally, sexual pleasure was the good, the beautiful, the happy, that which united man with nature in general. When sexual feelings and religious feelings became separated from one another, that which is sexual was forced to become the bad, the internal, the diabolical.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“It was one of the greatest errors in evaluating dictatorship to say that the dictator forces himself on society against its own will. In reality, every dictator in history was nothing but the accentuation of already existing state ideas which he had only to exaggerate in order to gain power”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“One cannot equate "capitalism" and "democracy.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“Power, no matter what kind of power it is, without a foundation in truth, is a dictatorship, more or less and in one way or another, for it is always based on man's fear of the social responsibility and personal burden that "freedom" entails.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“Race theorists, who are as old as imperialism itself, want to achieve racial purity in peoples whose interbreeding, as a result of the expansion of world economy, is so far advanced that racial purity can have meaning only to a numbskull.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“Religiosity that is hostile to sex is the product of authoritarian society.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“Open confession of dictatorship is far less dangerous than sham democracy. One can defend oneself against the former; the latter is like a creeper attached to the body of a drowning man.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“The word fascism is not a word of abuse any more than the word capitalism is. It is a concept denoting a very definite kind of mass leadership and mass influence: authoritarian, one-party system, hence totalitarian, a system in which power takes priority over objective interests, and facts are distorted for political purposes. Hence, there are "fascist Jews," just as there are "fascist Democrats.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“As painful and embarrassing as it may be, the fact remains that we are confronted with a human structure that has been shaped by thousands of years of mechanistic civilization and is expressed in social helplessness and an intense desire for a führer.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“Even more essential, however, is the identification of the individuals in the masses with the "führer." The more helpless the "mass-individual" has become, owing to his upbringing, the more pronounced is his identification with the führer, and the more the childish need for protection is disguised in the form of a feeling at one with the führer. This inclination to identify is the psychological basis of national narcissism, i.e., of the self-confidence that individual man derives from the "greatness of the nation." The reactionary lower middle-class man perceives himself in the führer, in the authoritarian state. On the basis of this identification he feels himself to be a defender of the "national heritage," of the "nation," which does not prevent him, likewise on the basis of this identification, from simultaneously despising "the masses" and confronting them as an individual. The wretchedness of his material and sexual situation is so overshadowed by the exalting idea of belonging to a master race and having a brilliant führer that, as time goes on, he ceases to realize how completely he has sunk to a position of insignificant, blind allegiance.

The worker who is conscious of his skills—he, in short, who has rid himself of his submissive structure, who identifies with his work and not with the führer, with the international working masses and not with the national homeland—represents the opposite of this. He feels himself to be a leader, not on the basis of his identification with the führer, but on the basis of his consciousness of performing work that is vitally necessary for society's existence.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“The socially irresponsible man is the man absorbed in sexual conflicts.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“Thus we arrive at the problem of the relation of religion to the negation of sexual desire. Sexual debility results in a lowering of self-confidence. In one case it is compensated by the brutalization of sexuality, to maintain sexual repression, in the other by rigid character traits. The compulsion to control one's sexuality, to maintain sexual repression, leads to the development of pathologic, emotionally tinged notions of honor and duty, bravery and self-control. But the pathology and emotionality of these psychic attitudes are strongly at variance with the reality of one's personal behavior. The man who attains genital satisfaction, is honorable, responsible, brave, and controlled, without making much of a fuss about it. These attitudes are an organic part of his personality. The man whose genitals are weakened, whose sexual structure is full of contradictions, must continually remind himself to control his sexuality, to preserve his sexual dignity, to be brave in the face of temptation, etc. The struggle to resist the temptation to masturbate is a struggle that is experienced by every adolescent and every child, without exception. All the elements of the reactionary man's structure are developed in this struggle. It is in the lower middle classes that this structure is reinforced most strongly and embedded most deeply. Every form of mysticism derives it's most active energy and, in part, also it's content from this compulsory suppression of sexuality.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“It is of the essence of any party to gain its orientation not from truths but from illusions which usually correspond to the irrational mass structure. Scientific truths only interfered with the habit of the party politicians of avoiding difficulties with the aid of illusions.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“This idealization of motherhood is essentially a means of keeping women from developing a sexual consciousness and from breaking through the barriers of sexual repression, of keeping alive their sexual anxieties and guilt feelings. The very existence of woman as a sexual being would threaten authoritarian ideology; her recognition and social affirmation would mean its collapse.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“Sentences like the following are found in many mystical and reactionary writings though not as clearly formulated as by Hutten:

''Kulturbolschewismus is nothing new. It is based on a striving which humanity has had since its earliest days: the longing for happiness. It is the eternal nostalgia for paradise on earth . . . The religion of faith is replaced by the religion of pleasure.''

We, on the other hand, ask: Why not happiness on earth? Why should not pleasure be the content of life? If one were to put this question to a general vote, no reactionary ideology could stand up.

The reactionary also recognizes, though in a mystical manner, the connection between mysticism and compulsive marriage and family:

''Because of this responsibility (for the possible consequences of pleasure), society has created the institution of marriage which, as a lifelong union, provides the protective frame for the sexual relationship.''

Right after this, we find the whole register of "cultural values" which, in the framework of reactionary ideology, fit together like the parts of a machine:

''Marriage as a tie, the family as a duty, the fatherland as value of its own, morality as authority, religion as obligation from eternity.''

It would be impossible better to describe the rigidity of human plasma!”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“Ignorance of the character structure of masses of people invariably leads to fruitless questioning. The Communists, for example, said that it was the misdirected policies of the Social Democrats that made it possible for the fascists to seize power. Actually this explanation did not explain anything, for it was precisely the Social Democrats who made a point of spreading illusions. In short, it did not result in a new mode of action. That political reaction in the form of fascism had 'befogged,' 'corrupted,' and 'hypnotized' the masses is an explanation that is as sterile as the others. This is and will continue to be the function of fascism as long as it exists. Such explanations are sterile because they fail to offer a way out. Experience teaches us that such disclosures, no matter how often they are repeated, do not convince the masses; that, in other words, social economic inquiry by itself is not enough. Wouldn't it be closer to the mark to ask, what was going on in the masses that they could not and would not recognize the function of fascism? To say that, 'The workers have to realize...' or 'We didn't understand...' does not serve any purpose. Why didn't the workers realize, and why didn't they understand? The questions that formed the basis of the discussion between the Right and the Left in the workers' movements are also to be regarded as sterile. The Right contended that the workers were not predisposed to fight; the Left, on the other hand, refuted this and asserted that the workers were revolutionary and that the Right's statement was a betrayal of revolutionary thinking. Both assertions, because they failed to see the complexities of the issue, were rigidly mechanistic. A realistic appraisal would have had to point out that the average worker bears a contradiction in himself; that he, in other words, is neither a clear-cut revolutionary nor a clear-cut conservative, but stands divided. His psychic structure derives on the one hand from the social situation (which prepares the ground for revolutionary attitudes) and on the other hand from the entire atmosphere of authoritarian society—the two being at odds with one another.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“More than economic dependency of the wife and children on the husband and father is needed to preserve the institution of the authoritarian family [and its support of the authoritarian state]. For the suppressed classes, this dependency is endurable only on condition that the consciousness of being a sexual being is suspended as completely as possible in women and in children. The wife must not figure as a sexual being, but solely as a child-bearer. Essentially, the idealization and deification of motherhood, which are so flagrantly at variance with the brutality with which the mothers of the toiling masses are actually treated, serve as means of preventing women from gaining a sexual consciousness, of preventing the imposed sexual repression from breaking through and of preventing sexual anxiety and sexual guilt-feelings from losing their hold. Sexually awakened women, affirmed and recognized as such, would mean the complete collapse of the authoritarian ideology. Conservative sexual reform has always made the mistake of merely making a slogan of "the right of woman to her own body," and not clearly and unmistakably regarding and defending woman as a sexual being, at least as much as it regards and defends her as a mother. Furthermore, conservative sexual reform based its sexual policies predominantly on the function of procreation, instead of undermining the reactionary view that equates sexuality and procreation.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“It is true that those of us who have political experience could wrestle for power just as any other politician. But we have no time; we have more important things to do. And there is no doubt that the knowledge we hold to be sacred would be lost in the process. To acquire power, millions of people have to be fed illusions. This too is true: Lenin won over millions of Russian peasants, without whom the Russian Revolution would have been impossible, with a slogan which was at variance with the basic collective tendencies of the Russian party. The slogan was: "Take the land of the large land-owners. It is to be your individual property." And the peasants followed. They would not have offered their allegiance if they had been told in 1917 that this land would one day be collectivized. The truth of this is attested to by the bitter fight for the collectivization of Russian agriculture around 1930. In social life there are degrees of power and degrees of falsity. The more the masses of people adhere to truth, the less power-mongering there will be; the more imbued with irrational illusions the masses of people are, the more widespread and brutal individual power-mongering will be.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“That the idea of God represents the conscience, the internalized admonitions and threats from parents and educators, is a well-known fact. What is less well known is the fact that, from an energy point of view, the belief in and the fear of God are sexual excitations which have changed their content and goal. The religious feeling, then, is the same as sexual feeling, except that it is attached to mystical, psychic contents. This explains the return of the sexual element in so many ascetic experiences, such as the nun's delusion that she is the bride of Christ. Such experiences rarely reach the stage of genital consciousness and thus are apt to take place in other sexual channels, such as masochistic martyrdom.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“As bitter as it may be, the fact remains: It is the irresponsibleness of masses of people that lies at the basis of fascism of all countries, nations, and races, etc. Fascism is the result of man's distortion over thousands of years. It could have developed in any country or nation. It is not a character trait that is confined specifically to the Germans or Italians. It is manifest in every single individual of the world. The Austrian saying "Da kann man halt nix machen" expresses this fact just as the American saying "Let George do it." That this situation was brought about by a social development which goes back thousands of years does not alter the fact itself. It is man himself who is responsible and not "historical developments." It was the shifting of the responsibility from living man to "historical developments" that caused the downfall of the socialist freedom movements. However, the events of the past twenty years demand the responsibility of the working masses of people.

If we take "freedom" to mean first and foremost the responsibility of each individual to shape personal, occupational, and social existence in a rational way, then it can be said that there is no greater fear than the fear of the creation of general freedom. Unless this basic problem is given complete priority and solved, there will never be a freedom capable of lasting more than one or two generations.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“A third emotional source of the defense forces is the sadistic conception of sexuality that the children of all patriarchal cultural circles acquire in early childhood. Since every inhibition of genital gratification intensifies the sadistic impulse, the entire sexual structure becomes sadistic. Since, moreover, genital claims are replaced by anal claims, the reactionary sexual slogan that a woman is degraded by sexual intercourse strikes a chord in the adolescent structure. In short, it is owing to the already existing perversity in the adolescent structure that the slogan can be effective. It is from his own personal experience that the adolescent has developed a sadistic conception of sexual intercourse. Thus, here too we find a confirmation of the fact that man's compulsive moralistic defense forces constitute the basis of political reaction's power.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“The reactionary of any kind condemns sexual pleasure because it stimulates and repulses him at the same time. He is unable to solve the conflict within him between sexual demands and moralistic inhibitions. The revolutionary refutes the perverse, unhealthy kind of pleasure, because it is not his kind of pleasure, because it is not the sexuality of the future, but the sexuality which results from the conflict between instinct and morals, the sexuality of authoritarian society, a debased, smutty, pathological sexuality.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“It did not take National Socialism long to rally workers, most of whom were either unemployed or still very young, into the SA [Sturmangriff, Stormtroopers, "brown shirts"]. To a large extent, however, these workers were revolutionary in a dull sort of way and still maintained an authoritarian attitude. For this reason National Socialist propaganda was contradictory; it's content was determined by the class for which it was intended. Only in its manipulation of the mystical feelings of the masses was it clear and consistent.

In talks with followers of the National Socialist party and especially with members of the SA, it was clearly brought out that the revolutionary phraseology of National Socialism was the decisive factor in the winning over of these masses. One heard National Socialists deny that Hitler represented capital. One heard SA men warn Hitler that he must not betray the cause of the "revolution." One heard SA men say that Hitler was the German Lenin. Those who went over to National Socialism from Social Democracy and the liberal central parties were, without exception, revolutionary minded masses who were either nonpolitical or politically undecided prior to this. Those who went over from the Communist party were often revolutionary elements who simply could not make any sense of many of the German Communist party's contradictory political slogans. In part they were men upon whom the external features of Hitler's party, it's military character, its assertiveness, etc., made a big impression.

To begin with, it is the symbol of the flag that stands out among the symbols used for purposes of propaganda.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“In truth, the epoch is gone in which we had the impression that the masses of society could be guided by reason and by insights into their situation of life to achieve social improvement with their own strength. In truth, the days are gone in which the masses have a function in shaping society. It has been shown that the masses can be completely molded, that they are unconscious and capable of adapting themselves to any kind of power or infamy.”
William S. Schlamm, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“The basic religious idea in all patriarchal religions is the negation of the sexual needs. Only in very primitive religions were religiosity and sexuality identical. When social organization passed from matriarchy to patriarchy and class society, the unity of religious and sexual cult underwent a split; the religious cult became the antithesis of the sexual. With that, the cult of sexuality went out of existence. It was replaced by the brothel, pornography and backstairs-sexuality. It goes without saying that when sexual experiences ceased to be one with the religious cults, when, instead, they became antithetical to them, religious excitation assumed a new function: that of being a substitute for the lost sexual pleasure, now no longer affirmed by society. Only this contradiction inherent in religious excitation makes the strength and the tenacity of the religions understandable: the contradiction of its being at one and the same time antisexual and a substitute for sexuality.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
Ungratified sexuality is readily transformed into rage. "Prison explosions" are outbreaks of sadism resulting from the absence of sexual gratification. Hence, when 33,000 workers leave their employment site all at once precisely in spring, there can be no doubt that the unsatisfying sex-economic conditions in the Soviet Union are the cause. By "sex-economic conditions" we mean more than just the possibility of a regulated and satisfying love life; over and above this we mean everything that is related to pleasure and the joy of life in one's work.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“Sadistic brutality and mystical feeling go always hand in hand when the normal capacity for orgastic experience is lacking. This was as true of the inquisitors of the medieval church, of the cruel and mystical Philip II of Spain, as it is of any modern mass murderer.”
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
“The fascist dictator declares that the masses of people are biologically inferior and crave authority, that basically, they are slaves by nature. Hence, a totalitarian authoritarian regime is the only possible form of government for such people. It is significant that all dictators who today plunge the world into misery stem from the suppressed masses of people. They are intimately familiar with this sickness on the part of masses of people. What they lack is an insight into natural processes and development, the will to truth and research, so that they are never moved by a desire to want to change these facts.

On the other hand, the formal democratic leaders made the mistake of assuming that the masses of people were automatically capable of freedom and thereby precluded every possibility of establishing freedom and self-responsibility in masses of people as long as they were in power. They were engulfed in the catastrophe and will never reappear.

Our answer is scientific and rational. It is based on the fact that masses of people are indeed incapable of freedom, but it does not—as racial mysticism does—look upon this incapacity as absolute, innate, and eternal. It regards this incapacity as the result of former social conditions of life and, therefore, as changeable.
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
Without the power to put them into practice, truths are of no use. They remain academic.
Power, no matter what kind of power it is, without a foundation in truth, is a dictatorship,
more or less and in one way or another, for it is always based on man's fear of the social responsibility and personal burden that "freedom" entails.
Dictatorial power and truth do not go together. They are mutually exclusive.
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism

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