mass psychology of fascism

siouxie in bondage gear i am currently reading jon savage’s england’s dreaming – anarchy, sex pistols, punk rock , and beyond. i kinda got stuck on this whole swastika thing. what was that all about? was it really just to shock people? were we really just “positively confronting people with the past”? sometimes i wonder how much of this we really understood. i never wore a swastika, but i certainly never objected to my friends sporting them all over the place. at one point a bunch of my friends moved into a basement and they painted the whole back wall of this moldy dungeon with a huge swastika. i mean, we were living there. who were we gonna positively confront with that swastika? i was really outraged then, more influenced by the clash by then, but when i expressed my objections i was only laughed at.
a few years later we were split right down the middle. from our original gang of 8 or so punks 4 were actively flirting with skinhead and rightwing politics, the rest of us were still into leftist anarchist or autonomous politics.

[img: siouxie]

as usual when having questions about fascism its a good idea to turn to the early writings of wilhelm reich, especially his classic text the mass psychology of fascism [here some excerpts of the text with parts of the theory explained in pictures, very cool! and here the whole text as a PDF – 823k].

from: chapter IV: the symbolism of the swastika

The red and the white appeal to the contradictory structure of the average individual. What remains unclear is the emotional role of the swastika. Why does the symbol lend itself so well to the provocation of mystical feelings? Hitler contended that it was a symbol of antisemitism. This significance, however, is acquired only at a very late stage in history. […]
It can be safely assumed that this symbol which represents two intertwined bodies is a powerful stimulus to deep-seated emotional strivings; the more powerful the more unsatisfied and sexually longing the individual is. If the symbol, in addition, is presented as the symbol of honor and faithfulness, it is all the more easily accepted because then it also draws in the sex-defensive moralistic tendencies. It would be entirely erroneous to conclude from these findings that one should try to diminish the effectiveness of the symbol by disclosing its sexual meaning. First, we do not want to depreciate the sexual act. Second, the reaction to such an attempt would be mostly negative since the moral disguise would act as a defense against our attempt. […]

and kinda unrelated but still very thoughtprovoking:

from: chapter X 2: Biological rigidity, incapacity for freedom and authoritarian mechanistic life concept

We are confronted with the incontrovertible fact: At no time in the history of human society did masses of people succeed in preserving, organizing, and developing the freedom and peace that they had achieved in bloody battles. We mean the genuine freedom of personal and social development, the freedom to face life without fear, freedom from all forms of economic suppression, freedom from reactionary inhibitions of development; in short, the free self administration of life. We have to rid ourselves of all illusions. In the masses of people themselves there is a retarding power which is both reactionary and murderous and which thwarts the efforts of the freedom-fighters again and again.
This reactionary power in masses of people appears as a general fear of responsibility and fear of freedom. These are not moralistic evaluations. This fear is deeply rooted in the biologic constitution of present-day man. However, this constitution is not, as the typical fascist believes, native to man; it has become that way in the course of history and is therefore changeable, fundamentally speaking.

10 years after 1968, some of us hippie kids and having grown up with anti-authoritarian parents, were we not in some ways as liberated as we could want to be, influenced by the hippies sexual revolution as well as already exposed to first signs of the babyboomers “long march through the institutions”. yet some of us found first identity, through shock and provocation, and later solace in fascist symbols and theory.

Technorati Tags: , ,

About Jan Zuppinger

Jan Zuppinger has been writing this blog since 2002. He likes to grow vegetables. He likes to eat them too. He has opinions on everything, but sadly no one cares. Jan Zuppinger is not joking, just joking, he is joking, just joking, he's not joking. *click.