Freudo-Marxism is a loose designation of several forms of critical theory that attempt to synthesize the philosophy and critique of political economy of Karl Marx with the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud.
Early Freudo-Marxism 1
- Wilhelm Reich 1.1
The Frankfurt School 2
- Marcuse's Eros and Civilization (1955) 2.1
- Fromm and The Sane Society 2.2
Lacan and Marxism 3
- Althusser 3.1
- Žižek 3.2
- Commodity and sexual fetishism 4
- See also 5
- References 6
- Further reading 7
- External links 8
The beginnings of Freudo-Marxist theorizing took place in the 1920s in Germany and the Soviet Union. The Soviet philosopher V. Yurinets and the Freudian analyst Siegfried Bernfeld both discussed the topic. The Soviet linguist Valentin Voloshinov, a member of the Bakhtin circle, began a Marxist critique of psychoanalysis in his 1925 article "Beyond the Social", which he developed more substantially in his book Freudianism: A Marxist Critique (1927). In 1929 Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis by Wilhelm Reich was published, both in German and in Russian in the bilingual communist theory journal Unter dem Banner des Marxismus. As the end of this line of thought can be considered Otto Fenichel's article Psychoanalysis as the nucleus of a future dialectical-materialistic psychology which appeared in 1934 in Wilhelm Reich's Journal Zeitschrift für Politische Psychologie und Sexualökonomie. One member of the Berlin group of Marxist psychoanalysts around Wilhelm Reich was Erich Fromm, who later brought Freudo-Marxist ideas into the exiled Frankfurt School led by Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno.
- Die Psychoanalyse als Keim einer zukünftigen dialektisch-materialistischen PsychologieOtto Fenichel: (German original)
- Marxisme lacanienDavid Pavon Cuellar: (French original)
- The Marriage of Marx and FreudRoger Kimball:
- Wilhelm Reich, Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis, in Lee Baxandall ed., Sex-Pol; Essays, 1929-1934 (New York, 1972).
- Otto Fenichel, Psychoanalysis as the nucleus of a future dialectical-materialistic psychology. In: American Imago, 1967 Winter; 24(4): 290-311
- Palmier, J.M. (1969) Wilhelm Reich: Essai sur la Naissance du Freudo-Marxisme, Paris.
- Titunik, I. R. (1976) Translator's Introduction, in Freudianism: A Marxist Critique by V. N. Voloshinov, London: Verso, p. xxiv-xxviii.
- "Wilhelm Reich is again the main pioneer in this field (an excellent, short introduction to his ideas can be found in Maurice Brinton's The Irrational in Politics). In Children of the Future, Reich made numerous suggestions, based on his research and clinical experience, for parents, psychologists, and educators striving to develop libertarian methods of child rearing. (He did not use the term "libertarian," but that is what his methods are.) Hence, in this and the following sections we will summarise Reich's main ideas as well as those of other libertarian psychologists and educators who have been influenced by him, such as A.S. Neill and Alexander Lowen." "J.6 What methods of child rearing do anarchists advocate?" in An Anarchist FAQ by Various Authors.
- "In an earlier article (“Some Thoughts on Libertarianism,” Broadsheet No. 35), I argued that to define a position as “anti-authoritarian” is not, in fact, to define the position at all “but merely to indicate a relationship of opposition to another position, the authoritarian one...On the psychoanalytic side, Wilhelm Reich (The Sexual Revolution, Peter Neville-Vision Press, London, 1951| Character Analysis, Orgone Institute Press, N.Y., 1945; and The Function of the Orgasm, Orgone Institute Press, N.Y., 1942) was preferred to Freud because, despite his own weaknesses – his Utopian tendencies and his eventual drift into “orgones” and “bions” – Reich laid more emphasis on the social conditions of mental events than did Freud (see, e.g., A.J. Baker, “Reich’s Criticism of Freud,” Libertarian No. 3, January 1960)." "A Reading List for Libertarians" by David Iverson. Broadsheet No. 39
- "I will also discuss other left-libertarians who wrote about Reich, as they bear on the general discussion of Reich's ideas...In 1944, Paul Goodman, author of Growing Up Absurd, The Empire City, and co-author of Gestalt Therapy, began to discover the work of Wilhelm Reich for his American audience in the tiny libertarian socialist and anarchist milieu." Orgone Addicts: Wilhelm Reich Versus The Situationists. "Orgone Addicts Wilhelm Reich versus the Situationists" by Jim Martin
- "In the summer of 1950-51, numerous member of the A.C.C. and other interested people held a series of meetings in the Ironworkers' Hall with a view to forming a downtown political society. Here a division developed between a more radical wing (including e.g. Waters and Grahame Harrison) and a more conservative wing (including e.g. Stove and Eric Dowling). The general orientation of these meetings may be judged from the fact that when Harry Hooton proposed "Anarchist" and some of the conservative proposed "Democratic" as the name for the new Society, both were rejected and "Libertarian Society" was adopted as an acceptable title. Likewise then accepted as the motto for this Society - and continued by the later Libertarian society - was the early Marx quotation used by Wilhelm Reich as the motto for his The Sexual Revolution, vis: "Since it is not for us to create a plan for the future that will hold for all time, all the more surely what we contemporaries have to do is the uncompromising critical evaluation of all that exists, uncompromising in the sense that our criticism fears neither its own results nor the conflict with the powers that be." "SYDNEY LIBERTARIANISM & THE PUSH" by A.J. Baker, in Broadsheet, No 81, March, 1975. (abridged)
That he was one of the most radical figures in psychiatry, see Sheppard 1973.
- Danto 2007, p. 43: "Wilhelm Reich, the second generation psychoanalyst perhaps most often associated with political radicalism ..."
- Turner 2011, p. 114: "[Reich's mobile clinic was] perhaps the most radical, politically engaged psychoanalytic enterprise to date."
- For the publication and significance of The Mass Psychology of Fascism and Character Analysis, see Sharaf 1994, pp. 163–164, 168.
- For Character Analysis being an important contribution to psychoanalytic theory, see:
- Young-Bruehl 2008, p. 157: "Reich, a year and a half younger than Anna Freud, was the youngest instructor at the Training Institute, where his classes on psychoanalytic technique, later presented in a book called Character Analysis, were crucial to his whole group of contemporaries."
- Sterba 1982, p. 35: "This book [Character Analysis] serves even today as an excellent introduction to psychoanalytic technique. In my opinion, Reich's understanding of and technical approach to resistance prepared the way for Anna Freud's Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence (1936)."
- Guntrip 1961, p. 105: "... the two important books of the middle 1930s, Character Analysis (1935) by Wilhelm Reich and The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence (1936) by Anna Freud."
- For more on the influence of The Mass Psychology of Fascism, see Kirkpatrick 1947, Burgess 1947; Bendix 1947; and Turner 2011, p. 152.
For Anna Freud, see Bugental, Schneider and Pierson 2001, p. 14: "Anna Freud's work on the ego and the mechanisms of defense developed from Reich's early research (A. Freud, 1936/1948)."
- For Perls, Lowen and Janov, see Sharaf 1994, p. 4.
- For the students, see Elkind, 18 April 1971; and Turner 2011, pp. 13–14.
- Sharaf 1994, pp. 419, pp. 460–461.
Marx's theory of commodity fetishism has proven fertile material for work by other theorists since Marx, who have added to, adapted, or, as Marxist orthodoxy might see it, 'vulgarized' the original concept. Freud's well-known but unrelated theory of sexual fetishism led to new interpretations of commodity fetishism, as types of sexually charged relationships between a person and a manufactured object.
Commodity and sexual fetishismdeals with the original Freudo-Marxist perspective. The Sublime Object of Ideology philosophy and Marxism. Althusser is also among his references. His Hegelian, psychoanalysis Lacanian has developed since the late 1980s a line of thought which uses Slavoj ŽižekThe Slovenian philosopher
His essay Contradiction and Overdetermination borrows the concept of overdetermination from psychoanalysis, in order to replace the idea of "contradiction" with a more complex model of multiple causality in political situations (an idea closely related to Gramsci's concept of hegemony).
Louis Althusser is widely known as a theorist of ideology, and his best-known essay is Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses: Notes Toward an Investigation. The essay establishes the concept of ideology, also based on Gramsci's theory of hegemony. Whereas hegemony is ultimately determined entirely by political forces, ideology draws on Freud's and Lacan's concepts of the unconscious and mirror-phase respectively, and describes the structures and systems that allow us to meaningfully have a concept of the self. These structures, for Althusser, are both agents of repression and inevitable - it is impossible to escape ideology, to not be subjected to it. The distinction between ideology and science or philosophy is not assured once for all by the epistemological break (a term borrowed from Gaston Bachelard): this "break" is not a chronologically-determined event, but a process. Instead of an assured victory, there is a continuous struggle against ideology: "Ideology has no history".
Jacques Lacan was a philosophically sophisticated French psychoanalyst, whose perspective came to predominate in French psychiatry and psychology. Lacan saw himself as loyal to and rescuing Freud's legacy. Lacan's influence has created a new cross-fertilisation of Freudian and Marxist ideas.
Lacan and Marxism
The culmination of Fromm's social and political philosophy was his book The Sane Society, published in 1955, which argued in favor of humanist, democratic socialism. Building primarily upon the works of Karl Marx, Fromm sought to re-emphasise the ideal of personal freedom, missing from most Soviet Marxism, and more frequently found in the writings of classic liberals. Fromm's brand of socialism rejected both Western capitalism and Soviet communism, which he saw as dehumanizing and bureaucratic social structures that resulted in a virtually universal modern phenomenon of alienation.
Fromm and The Sane Society
In the book, Marcuse writes about the social meaning of biology – history seen not as a class struggle, but fight against repression of our instincts. He argues that capitalism (if never named as such) is preventing us from reaching the non-repressive society "based on a fundamentally different experience of being, a fundamentally different relation between man and nature, and fundamentally different existential relations". See also Bernard Stiegler, "Spirit, Capitalism and Superego".
Eros and Civilization is one of Marcuse's best known early works. Written in 1955, it is an attempted dialectical synthesis of Marx and Freud whose title alludes to Freud's Civilization and its Discontents. Marcuse's vision of a non-repressive society (which runs rather counter to Freud's conception of society as naturally and necessarily repressive), based on Marx and Freud, anticipated the values of 1960s countercultural social movements.
Marcuse's Eros and Civilization (1955)
The Frankfurt School (the "Institut für Sozialforschung") took up the task of choosing what parts of Marx's thought might serve to clarify social conditions which Marx himself had never seen. They drew on other schools of thought to fill in Marx's perceived omissions. Max Weber exerted a major influence, as did Sigmund Freud. In the institute's extensive Studien über Authorität und Familie (ed. Max Horkheimer, Paris 1936) Erich Fromm was the author of the social-psychological part. Another new member of the institute was Herbert Marcuse, who became famous only during the 1950s in the USA.
The Frankfurt School
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