[Marxism] Re: [Marxism-Thaxis] S. Freud and Wilhelm Reich RE "Moral Values" and Repression, Neuroses

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Fri Dec 24 05:37:13 MST 2004

I would agree with the author that the Frankfurters'  well-known
writings on the psychology of fascism (i.e. Adorno's work on
*The Authoritarian Personality* for instance, or Erich Fromm's
writings on this subject, owe a very great deal to Wilhelm Reich).

BTW one of the few respectable academics who maintained
a friendship with Reich during his later years, was the
philosopher, Paul Edwards, who just recently passed away.
Edwards wrote and lecture a fair amount on the work of
Reich, attempting to sort out what was rational and useful
in Reich's work from the stuff that Edwards considered to
be bonkers like the stuff on "orgone."  Readers here
may want to take a look at Edwards' article on
Wilhelm Reich that appears in *The Encyclopedia
of Philosophy * (NY: Macmillan, 1967),  which was
edited by Edwards. 

In his article on Reich, Edwards writes among other
'How are we to account for the fact that "religious ideas 
are invested with such intense feelings"? What explains 
the "enormous emotional power of mysticism" ([The Mass 
Psychology of Fascism (edition?)] ibid., p. 122)? Or, using 
Reich's favorite terminology, what is the "energy" which enables 
religions to gain such a firm hold on people? What is it that compels 
human beings not only to accept the idea of a pleasure-prohibiting, 
all-seeing God and the ideologies of sin and punishment, and 
"not to feel them as a burden but, on the contrary, to uphold and 
fervently defend them, at the sacrifice of their most primitive life
interests?" (ibid., p. 124). 

Reich is strongly opposed to the tendency of "emancipated" unbelievers 
to dismiss religions as nothing more than the fancies of silly and
people. He insists that a study of religious people—of the content of
emotions and beliefs, of the ways in which these are implanted, and of 
the function which they fulfill in their psychological economy—is highly 
rewarding. It sheds light on many other phenomena, including, for
the psychological basis of fascism and of reactionary political
Such a study also explains why, by and large, free-thought propaganda is
unsuccessful in spite of the fact that from a purely rational point of
view the 
positions defended by freethinkers are vastly superior to the religious 
claims—something that is not altogether unknown among believers. 
Above all, a happy life for the majority of mankind is impossible unless 
the power of religion is broken, unless one can prevent "the mystical 
infestation of the masses" (ibid., p. 161). However, in order to be
in "the relentless fight against mysticism," one must have a full
of its origin and its psychological sources of strength so that one can
its "artful apparatus . . . with adequate counter-measures" (ibid., p.
To suppose that mystical attitudes become anchored in human beings 
simply as a result of intellectual indoctrination is a naive and
dangerous mistake.' [111]. 

'It would lead too far afield to discuss here the various ways in which, 
according to Reich, the "mystical idea of God" becomes anchored in
These mechanisms may vary in detail, but they all involve the implanting
sexual anxieties; and Reich concludes that from the point of view of
mystical feelings are "sexual excitations which have changed their
and goal." The energy of these emotions is the energy of natural
which has become transformed and attached to mystical, psychic contents. 
Religious patients, upon establishing a fully satisfying sex life,
lose their God-fixation. 

Once one comprehends the nature of "religious excitations," it becomes 
clear why the free-thought movement "cannot make itself as a
(ibid., p. 147). Aside from the fact that in many countries the churches
the support of the state and that generally the mass information media
grossly biased in favor of religion and religious morality, the impact of

free-thought propaganda is limited because it relies almost exclusively
intellectual arguments. These are not, indeed, a negligible factor, but
are no match for the "most powerful emotion" on which the
influence of religious institutions is based: sexual anxiety and sexual
People with a religious upbringing who, as a result of the study of
science and 
philosophy, have turned into unbelievers very frequently retain religious
and emotions. Some of them even continue to pray compulsively. This does 
not prove, as some advocates of religion argue, that religious needs are 
"eternal and ineradicable." It does, however, show that "while the
feeling is opposed by the power of the intellect, its sources have not
touched (ibid., p. 152)."' [112]. 

'it follows incontrovertibly that "full sexual consciousness and a
regulation of sexual life mean the end of mystical feelings of any kind, 
that, in other words, natural sexuality is the deadly enemy of mystical
(ibid., p. 152). Any social efforts which are directed toward making
affirm their sexual rights will ipso facto weaken the forces of
mysticism.' [112]. 

'As for those people who are too old to have their structure basically
it is still all to the good to bring "silent suffering to the surface."
They might 
then be less likely to become instruments in the process of maiming their

own children, and they will not continue to support sex-repressive laws.'

'An individual "who is sexually happy does not need an inhibiting
or a supernatural 'religious experience.' Basically, life is as simple as
It becomes complicated only by the human structure which is characterized

by the fear of life" (The Sexual Revolution, p. 269).' [113]. 

Jim F.

On Thu, 23 Dec 2004 23:01:59 -0800 "Lil Joe" <joe_radical at earthlink.net>
> In Defence of Marxism- http://www.marxist.com
> Marxism and Psychoanalysis
> Notes on Wilhelm Reich’s Life and Works
> By Alessandro D'Aloia

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