Collective psychology of neo-fascists

Image: Mustafa Ezz


The great current intellectual challenge is to “decipher the sphinx” of Tupiniquim neo-fascism

What has four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening? The human being. He crawls as a child, walks as an adult, and needs a cane as he gets older. Oedipus was the one who answered the question and defeated the Sphinx.

The great current intellectual challenge is to “decipher the sphinx” of Tupiniquim neo-fascism. It concerns the profile of those who only idolize “god, homeland and family”. There are several efforts by politicians, sociologists and psychologists to explain this phenomenon with the capacity to cover 49,1% of the Brazilian electorate.

I, as an economics professor, read all scientists in search of a complete answer... if this is possible, definitively and categorically, without giving rise to doubts, evasions or imprecision. I also watched, bit by bit, because it is so overwhelming, the important documentary series from Globoplay.

Hence, visualizing the celibate characters – in a figurative sense without profit, sterile, useless – of this paranoid plot, I felt the need to reread the Mass psychology of fascism, published in 1933, during the rise of Nazism in Germany. Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich analyzes why fascists exhibit a symptom of sexual repression. He warns: “the socioeconomic explanation does not hold”. When humans' thinking and acting are inconsistent with the economic situation, they are irrational.

The common Marxist and the narrow-minded economist, if they do not recognize psychology, have no answer to this contradiction. Why support a militarized government without supporting the social mobility of pariahs, but only granting benefits to their castes?

“The more mechanistic and economicist the sociologist is, the less he knows the psychic structure of human beings and the more he falls into the errors of a superficial psychologism, in the practice of mass propaganda. Instead of revealing and resolving the psychic contradiction of the individual, inserted in the masses, (…) he explains the nationalist [mystical] movement as a 'mass psychosis'”.

As the economist neither knows nor admits the existence of psychic processes, the expression “mass psychosis” means something without any social relevance to him. For Wilhelm Reich, it means a social fact of enormous historical importance.

The book Mass psychology of fascism begins his questioning exactly at the point where immediate socioeconomic explanations fail. Because of his criticism of the economism of vulgar Marxism, unfolding into criticism of the Stalinist totalitarianism of the Soviet Union, Wilhelm Reich was expelled from the Communist Party of Germany.

But it was not only on the part of that left that the rejection of its critical thinking was. He had to flee Germany, after the seizure of power by National Socialism (Nazism) with the fire of the Reichstag. His book, along with many others banned by the German Nazis when they came to power, was publicly burned.

Here, neo-fascists from Tupiniquim “burn” Paulo Freire's books and all university literature supposed to be by “communists and drug addicts”. They only read their hate networks on the internet, that is, they praise the profanity spewed by Olavo de Carvalho as if they were a deep knowledge...

Worse, Wilhelm Reich was also expelled from the International Psychoanalytic Association in 1934 for his views on sexuality. All books published by him were subsequently ordered to be burned, at the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), by a judge in Maine, United States, in 1954, during the height of the McCarthyism, American anti-communism.

What is the biggest nuisance caused by him to the fascists? It considers the family (Tradition and Property), one of the legs of the tripod God (Evangelism) and Country (Armed Forces), as the main germ cell of reactionary politics, the most important center of production of reactionary men and women. The family becomes the main pillar for the maintenance of the authoritarian system in favor of the conservation of the status quo.

In contrast, the sexually conscious woman, capable of asserting herself and being recognized as such, would mean the complete collapse of authoritarian ideology. Hence the hatred of narrow-minded conservatives against the identity agenda: feminism, transsexualism, anti-homophobia, freedom to dispose of one's own body, etc.

Each social order creates, in the component masses, the psychological structures needed to achieve its fundamental goals. The contradictions of the economic structure of society are rooted in the psychological structure of the economically and sexually oppressed masses. Understanding acting irrationally and seemingly without purpose requires understanding the cleavage between ideology and economics. All mysticism is reactionary – and reactionary man is mystic.

Ridiculing mysticism – the inclination to believe in supernatural beings and forces – as “dullness” or “collective psychosis” is not the proper measure against it. But, if we correctly understand the belief that human beings can communicate with some deity or receive signs or messages from them, we can discover an antidote to the phenomenon of reactionary conservatism.

Any mystic will justify such behavior on the basis of the intrinsic morality of man's nature. It prevents rebellion against divine institutions and State authority, if it is under the control of the Armed Forces and their representatives.

Such phenomena cannot be explained from a purely economic point of view, that is, based on the class struggle between income and/or wealth fractions. It is necessary to understand the connection between this self-repressive behavior and the distortion of the sexual life of the great uneducated and religiously and militarily indoctrinated masses.

Sexuality or its energy — the libido —, instinctive in the body, is the main engine of psychic life. Biological conditions and social conditions of life intersect in the mind.

Since childhood, sexuality is normally repressed by fear of punishment for acts and thoughts of a sexual nature. This explains the far right's obsession with child abuse slurs against dissenters. Repression intensifies sexuality and makes it capable of manifesting itself in various pathological disturbances of the mind.

The moral code introjected in human beings, far from having a divine origin, comes from the education given by parents and their representatives, since childhood. Among the educational measures, those contrary to free sexuality stand out.

The sociology of sexual economy asks itself: for what sociological reasons is sexuality repressed by society and repressed by the conservative individual? Evangelism would say it is for the “salvation of the soul”, but the cultural activity itself does not demand the repression and repression of sexuality. It is not a question of culture, but of maintaining the same social order as before, with its hierarchies.

The combination of the socioeconomic structure with the sexual structure of society (and its reproduction) is verified from the first years of life in the authoritarian family. The Church continues with this castrating function. Finally, the authoritarian leader in the State defends both (God and family), where structures and ideologies of the armed Fatherland are shaped.

As sex is a forbidden subject, there is a general paralysis of critical thinking and spirit. The objective of family and evangelical morality is the creation of a submissive individual, adapted to the authoritarian order, despite suffering and humiliation.

Moralistic and antisexual inhibition prevents the conservative woman from becoming aware of her social situation. He strongly links her to “evangelical” (sic) pastors, as they make her fear “sexual communism”.

The repression of the satisfaction of material needs is subordinated to the repression of sexual needs. This prevents the rebellion against both kinds of repression by repressing your sexual impulses, removing them from the conscious domain and fixing them as a defense of retrograde morality against the social mores of the new times.

The result, according to Wilhem Reich, is conservatism, the fear of freedom. Therefore, the reactionary mentality prevails, seen in rural people in the DF.

Fascist ideology, unlike evangelical ideology, makes a distinction between the orgasmic needs of the human animal and the psychological structures created in authoritarian patriarchal society. In its violent manifestations, it is opposed to the celestial, asexual, pure. Release the instinctual, demonic, sexual, ecstatic, orgasmic.

In the camps in front of the barracks, the “Puritans” were sexually excited. Living with people of the highest order caused a lot of excitement, excited them to the point of moving away from the family. Collective manifestations are orgasmic. In vandalism against symbols of the Republic, they finally achieved an orgasm, the highest degree of sexual satisfaction.

*Fernando Nogueira da Costa He is a full professor at the Institute of Economics at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of Support and enrichment network. Available in

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