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Also by Wilhelm Reich

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. 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. 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.

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.


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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. The very existence of woman as a sexual being would threaten authoritarian ideology; her recognition and social affirmation would mean its collapse.

Fascism is the result of man's distortion over thousands of years. It could have developed in any country or nation.

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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. It is man himself who is responsible and not "historical developments. 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. Only in very primitive religions were religiosity and sexuality identical.

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The Mass Psychology Of Fascism

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. 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.


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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. 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.

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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. His many other works include Listen, Little Man! He died in Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices. Carfagno Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume The Mass Psychology of Fascism.

Stewart Burgess. Temple University. Oxford Academic.

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