The Mass Psychology of Fascism in the 21st Century – part 3

At some point I will write about the way our identities are culturally formed in terms of whether we are programmed to love the other or to simply not value the life of the other at all (to value some other bureaucratic and rule-based goal).

The way we are programmed is a psychoanalytic process that I won’t describe here.

Here, I just want to point to a paragraph in an excellent essay by David Graeber, titled: “The centre blows itself up – care and ‘Spite’ in the Brexit election”.

This is the paragraph:

Whereas the core value of the caring classes is, precisely, care, the core value of the professional-managerials might best be described as proceduralism. The rules and regulations, flow charts, quality reviews, audits and PowerPoints that form the main substance of their working life inevitably color their view of politics or even morality . These are people who tend to genuinely believe in the rules They may well be the only significant stratum of the population who do so. If it is possible to generalize about class sensibilities, one might say that members of this class see society less as a web of human relationships, of love, hate, or enthusiasm, than, precisely, as a set of rules and institutional procedures, just as they see democracy, and rule of law, as effectively the same thing. (This, for instance, accounts for Hillary Clinton’s supporters’ otherwise inexplicable inability to understand why other Americans didn’t accept the principle that if one makes bribery legal—by renaming it “campaign contributions” or half-million-dollar fees for private speeches—that makes it okay.)

The key point here is that ‘love’ – defined here as the desire to care for the individual other without doing them harm (no matter how hard that might be) – is no longer valued. Wilhelm Reich in his 1942 ‘The Mass Psychology of Fascism’ (TMPF) talks about the non-political ‘man’: the person from an authoriatrian patriarchal, perhaps religious family, which is implicitly anti-sexual, (or I would say as well, anti-love), who is encultured to identify with authority figures like Boris Johnson, as sovereign, no matter how random and arbitrary his ‘rule’ seems to be. The non-political person’s libidinal energies need to find release and cannot find it in love and so turns to bureaucratic rules that no longer care or love the individual but impose blanket ‘rules’ that must be obeyed by everyone. An example of this would be cancer screening in programmes that I have analysed from this perspective in my book: ‘Anticipation and Medicine – a critical analysis of the science, praxis and perversion of evidence based health care’.

The psyche of this so-called non-political man is an important ingredient in the development of fascist politics. Hitler, as Reich pointed out (p200, TMPF), succeeded in appealing to this sexualised frustration at the source of his or her ‘social irresponsibility’ as Reich put it, or if his or her incapacity to love the other (as I would put it).

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