Back in June, in a post featuring critiques Karl Korsch and Georg Lukács wrote on Freudian psychoanalysis, I announced that I’d shortly be posting a number of works by the Marxian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich. A couple days earlier, of course, I’d posted an excellent piece by Bertell Ollman on Reich from his 1979 essay collection Social and Sexual Revolution. Needless to say, this post is long overdue.
Some brief remarks are therefore appropriate, in passing, to frame Reich’s relevance to the present moment.
First of all, Reich is relevant to contemporary discussions of fascism. His work on The Mass Psychology of Fascism remains one of the most innovative and profound Marxist efforts to understand ideology as a material force that has appeared to date.
Moreover, this forms a pivotal point of departure for a host of subsequent attempts to theorize revolutionary subjectivity — both in terms of consciousness and of desire. Tomorrow or the next day I hope to jot down some of my own thoughts on the matter, using Reich for reference.
Last but not least, Reich’s thoughts on sexual emancipation are considerably ahead of their time. Consider, for example, this excerpt from one of his journal entries dated 1939, while in Oslo:
The past few nights I wandered the streets of Oslo alone. At night a certain type of person awakes and plies her trade, one who these days must view each bit of love with great fear but who will someday hold sway over life. Today practically a criminal, tomorrow the proud bearer of life’s finest fruits. Whores, ostracized in our day, will in future times be beautiful women simply giving of their love. They will no longer be whores. Someday sensual pleasure will make old maids look so ridiculous that the power of social morality will slip out of their hands. I love love!
While some of his views on homosexuality might seem antiquated or backwards today — he saw it as a deviant behavior, linked to latent authoritarian tendencies — the fact remains that Reich favored decriminalization and protested adamantly against its recriminalization in the Soviet Union under Stalin.
Incidentally, this is why I find it so absurd that leftists look to excuse Castro’s homophobic policies prior to 1980. Eduard Bernstein was promoting gay rights during the 1890s, and August Bebel advocated the repeal of laws against sodomy as early as 1898.
Regardless, here are the promised PDFs, along with some rare images and a translated article by the Italian Trotskyist Alessandro D’Aloia. I have taken the liberty of deleting some needless asides about the Big Bang, a peculiar hangup the International Marxist Tendency retains with respect to theoretical physics despite none of its members being qualified enough to judge the matter.