Confronting Paradigms- Karl Marx And Sigmund Freud

marx freud


Freudo- Marxism, historically has been identified as a tradition dedicated to or rigorously attempting to synthesize the works of Karl Marx and the Psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud.  The first attempts of synthesis were made during 1930 to 1945 in the wake of rise and fall of Nazi flush in History. It was also a process of retreat of Marxist and proletarian movements. We may identify this as Multi Disciplinary approach and a attempt to discover, develop or resurrect a Model or Paradigm focused or directed at articulating problems in creating comprehensive integration of two apparently diametrically opposed theoretical Modules of interpretations. Karl Marx’s interpretation of Fetishism of commodities and Sigmund Freud’s interpretation of Dream ‘Fetish’, both, strange and mystical!  One INTERPRETATION dedicated to uncover the creative essence of Human Production of things, THE MATERIAL WORLD, appearing or manifesting as ‘Fetish’ and vice versa. The other INTERPRETATION dedicated to unveil from the appearance of strange mystical conglomeration of Imagery, ideas and verbal utterances and penetrating to its Essence and its reconstruction of the phenomena.   One, apparently dealing with Material World and other dealing with ‘Ideal world’.  Reconciliation of these two worlds was compelling necessity-particularly from 1930’s.

This exercise was driven by ‘Rise and rise and ultimate fall of Nazism’ in the wake of unimaginable human destruction and its perpetual upsurges in subsequent history. This historical development threw up, the retrograde NAZI movement which attempted the conquer this world ‘In face of Marxist’s assertion of inevitability of Proletarian’ world revolution!  Most vicious, Retrograde collective ‘Group ideology’ and thought processes driving the Patriotic and Ultra Nationalist ‘mass movements’, succeeded installing the NAZI Dictatorship in Germany! The Freudo- Marxism which strongly emerged, particularly in thirties was an attempt to reach into the depths of the phenomena, to uncover the raging ‘underground origins of retro gradation’. It was caused by ‘Unseen’, invisible power of aggressive archaic Myths, Symbols and fantasies which formed the core of reactionary, Authoritarian and ‘NAZI STYLE’, thought processes.

Next attempt and movement to reconcile Marx and Freud and offer solution was resurrected amidst French and European student protests and agitations during 1968, short lived but eruption of intense Revolt and which continued for next few years. It radically impacted entire political, cultural life, including cinema, music, Literature, Social Sciences and ART in entire Europe.  It’s presence, significance and relevance is intensely felt today as much as never before in order to avoid repetition of History which led to Second World War and unheard Human destruction!

Unfolding of Project of Freudo- Marxism

Freudo-Marxist theorizing progressed in  1920s in Germany ,  Soviet Union, rest of Europe and USA as well. The Soviet philosopher. V. Yurinets and the Freudian analyst Siegfried Bernfried, who was the first major proponents of Linking Freudian discourse with Marxist interpretations (Who had to migrate in view of NAZI threat) .  He along with other Freudo Marxists developed a Project to unify and create a Model to provide answers to fresh PARADIGM-of History. It was built on six pillars- 1) Psychoanalysis and Historical materialism are both demystifying exercises on the subject of the inversions of reality and consciousness.  2) Discovering contents of consciousness reeling under repression from the manifest symptoms as Freud discovered and facilitating rescue of the working classes subjected to oppressive relations of production which thus endlessly keep the working classes subjected to exploitation and alienation. 3) Human drives are the Motor of History and likewise means of production 4) Dialectics, the struggle of opposites , of drives and defense- repression (Freud) and between Exploiters and exploited (Marx), 5) To uncover the Oedipus Drama (Freud) and unveil the modes of domination and exploitation- in short contours of Historical struggle towards achieving ‘Self Control’ 6) To study the close relationships between Unconscious, Pre-conscious and Consciousness- or Id –Ego- Superego (Freud) and Economic Infrastructure and Ideological Super structure (Marx).

We must focus on major similarities of Marxism and Psychoanalysis as two Scientific Interpretative Disciplines.  Marx’s ‘CAPITAL” announced the inevitable collapse of capitalism and Liberation of the toiling- laboring Humanity from Slavery and its expiry date. Interpretation of Dreams’ on the other hand stood up as a REBELLIOUS, discipline and becoming an ‘Anti Establishment’ and ‘Anti Semitic’  movement  challenging the ‘Repression’, both psychic and cultural!  Both foresee the NEW DAWN and end of ‘REPRESSION”.  Both developed as different discourses, one on socio- political and historical grounds, the other on individualized ‘Psychological- Cultural terrain of Bourgeoisie Society! Both announced ‘Human Liberation from Enslavement and both had Internationalist Perspective.

In Essence, both interpretative exercises had coalescence of their Aims but worked with different Historical Paradigms. . Freudo Marxism emerged as a provocative discipline with a mission to find out etiology of Neurosis, Hysteria and destructive mental disorders and springing from Authoritarian Family structure, pedagogical methods employed and modes of Domination under  Capitalist Exploitation. The efforts were initiated and developed in due course by prominent and active adherents of Psychoanalysis Siegfried Bernfeld, (1926), Erich Fromm (1932), Wilhelm Reich (1934), and Otto Fenichel (1934), as well as Paul Federn, Annie Reich (Reich’s partner), Richard Sterba and Georg Simmel, all prominent. Freudo Marxists were inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution. Its birth was historical necessity when workers movement experienced division between Socialists and Communist Party on one hand and were subjected to fierce violence of the advancing NAZIs and anti- SEMITIC movement.  Capitalist states of Europe and USA began to carryout intensified repressions AGAINST working class organizations and associated Political Parties after 1929 economic crisis.

Both disciplines had something in common with each other but was not easy to formulate in terms of Goals, Aims and methodologies and techniques of Interpretations. Marxism originated and had developed on the basis of different set of concepts, thought patterns and postulates and subjects and hence had different methods of Interpretations of phenomena. In short both worked with different Socio- Historical Paradigms!  There plan was to transplant interpretative techniques of Psychoanalysis on Marxist Foundations but the attempt proved abortive, it was late. The main reason of course was unexpected and unimaginable speed of NAZI aggression supported and sponsored by Big and Monopoly Capital. Both disciplines, Psychoanalytic movement led by Psychoanalytic society in Vienna and Working Class movement led by Marxists and sympathized by Freudo Marxisists found themselves  absolutely unaware.  Resultant was smashing up of and the organizational strength and large number of left, radical and Psychoanalysts had to escape from Germany and Austria.


Fetish, an archaic concept which is believed to be an object incarnated with Supernatural power, in particular, a human-made object that has power over others. Karl Marx treatment and Interpretation of this Anthropological concept, to comprehend Magical qualities of commodities springing from ‘inversion’ inherent in Commodity Production. He terms it as ‘Fetishism of commodities’. It emerges as resultant from Production process as more than spiritual sacred ‘Symbol’ or a spiritual idol. It re emerges from archaic grounds, from the shared belief of aboriginals in ‘Totem’. As an inanimate object worshipped for gratification of desires (like sexual). It’s magical value pertains to transformation of ‘Use Value’ into ‘Exchange value’. Marx explains, “The mysterious character of the ‘Commodity Form’consists therefore simply in the fact that the commodity reflects the social characteristics of men’s own labour as objective characteristics of the products of labour themselves, as the socio-natural properties of these things”. “What is, in fact, a social relation between people (between capitalists and exploited laborers) instead assumes “the fantastic form of a relation between things”

In capitalist society the real producers of commodities, the Proletariat, remain largely ‘invisible’, hidden and their ‘Social Character’ is ‘Concealed’ by ‘finished form of Commodities’ and exchange and circulation of ‘Money’. These social relations appear as the relations between material objects ‘unrevealed’ and enveloped and by ‘Gold’ and then by ‘Paper money’ and other ‘Forms’. Marx’s interpretation of ‘Capital’, fully succeeds in revealing the ‘alienation’ of powers of collective labor’, and which transcends beyond ‘Control’.

We find Hegelian Master Slave Dialectics very lucidly comprehended and narrated in Capital Volume one, Section IV, – ‘Production of Relative Surplus value’.  Here we find in his analysis of ‘production of Relative Surplus value’ a very cogent co-relationship discovered and interpreted by Karl Marx between Despotism, juggernaut of Repression, estrangement, alienation, Inversion, Distortion and Origins of Fetishism too. In nutshell it sums up Marx’s ‘Paradigm”.

He says, “when analyzing the production of relative surplus-value: within the capitalist system all methods for raising the social productiveness of labor are brought about at the cost of the individual laborer; all means for the development of production transform themselves into means of domination over, and exploitation of, the producers; they mutilate the laborer into a fragment of a man, degrade him to the level of an appendage of a machine, destroy every remnant of charm in his work and turn it into a hated toil; they estrange from him the intellectual potentialities of the labour process in the same proportion as science is incorporated in it as an independent power; they distort the conditions under which he works, subject him during the labour process to a despotism the more hateful for its meanness; they transform his life-time into working-time, and drag his wife and child beneath the wheels of the Juggernaut of capital”. (Highlighted ITALICS-Section IV, Chapter 25, page 449 Capital Volume-1)   

Karl Marx faced historically the most daunting and unparallel task and enterprise to interpret the world socio- economic order of 19th Century, Capitalism, flourishing on foundations of New Production and Class relations. The entire historically emerged social structure completely hidden by the veal of Commodity Circulation and fetishism breeding on the foundations of Freedom for Enslavement of labor power, Capital Accumulation, freedom to exchange. Here Marx discovers the emergent Historical Role of the working class as the active historical Agent possessing the potential to transform and revolutionize the human relations. Piercing through the all encompassing Fetishism and striving to achieve collective ‘self control’!  The above Paragraph enables us to picture, represent or re- construct the MARX’S PARADIGM, which through critical enquiry penetrates to the grounds of Modern capitalism which transforms the ‘latent’ life giving substance of Human creativity into ‘manifest expression’ of accumulating and circulating capital, the process which fully conceals it through its ‘Fetishised appearance’. Karl Marx in footsteps of WGF Hegel comprehends it through Dialectical Process as under.

 social control


In terms of Dialectic, of force and energy, for comparison purpose, for Marx, Labor, is the Life giving Substance of this Universe, the creative Force/ Eros – the integration of desires source of collective energy and ‘Despotic Capital’ is the  Thanayos’ or Death Instinct! Capitalist Competition leads to destruction, wars, World Wars and annihilations. Labor is unifying power, collectivity bringing together universe, the men and women, community, races and nations! 

The Paradigm can articulate how ‘Commodity Fetishism’ born within the womb of Production is sustained and reproduced on ever expanding scale in the process of circulation of commodities which is the surface ‘appearance’ of essence! What Sigmund Freud discovered in Analytical Treatment was the Eros or creative process, sublimation of Eros at work under the guidance of ‘Ego’ of individuals at work stimulated by desire.

Anti Semitism and Epochal value of Interpretation of Dreams.

Freud was no longer safe in Vienna after the Nazi occupation, since the Gestapo was not only targeting Jews in general but Psychoanalysts in particular. In 1933, mobs of Nazi sympathizers had burned Freud’s books, chanting, offering his writings to Flames.

The critiques of Freud have pointed out about his ‘complicity during rise of Nazism and occupation of Austria. Few accused him of appeasement. None of the account during this period lead to conclusion of appeasement. Yes, It was crisis for International psychoanalysis. Also it Psychoanalytic Society was the only body which could have interpreted NAZISM as phenomena. It cannot be ignored that Psychoanalytic Society was not a political organization and could not have fought in streets with NAZIS politically. It is believed that it was Freud’s patient, Princess Marie Bonaparte, Napoleon’s great-granddaughter, who rescued him by paying ransom to Corrupt NAZI’s for his Exit Visa However NAZIS were aware of dangers Psychoanalysis poses particularly his anti authoritarian scientific foundations and ‘Non Patriotic’ Orientation. This was enough for them to persecute Jews as well as most of its members of Psychoanalytic Society who did not fall in Line. Freud’s both sisters had to die in concentration camps.

The PARADIGMS have Historical Moorings and change or Transformation in Historical situations with highlights of emergence of Monopoly capitalism, uprooting of communities, formation of huge reserve armies of labor, upswing of Racialism & nationalism, galloping RISE OF Anti Semitism, religious conflicts and  geographical expansionist ambitions of Modern Capitalist States. The complexities marked ‘PARADIGM SHIFT’ for Marxists!

Here we can Re-visit or identify the Freudian Paradigm as historically very complex Cultural Paradigm. Shortly we will be in a position to identify surprising parallels between their ‘Objectives’. Where Marx left, Freud began.   Freud confronted with historical situation in which ‘archaic past’ made its Cultural appearance’. Psychology defined as scientific study of Human mind, its behavior and the mental processes had its origins in ancient Eastern and Western civilizations of Egypt, Greece China, India etc. But rise of Capitalism brought along with it birth of various Scientific disciplines, Sociology, Archeology, Anthropology  and so also Psychology as independent Scientific discipline interfacing several other disciplines, particularly from 1870’s in Germany.  Sigmund Freud with Joseph Breuer made the Land mark studies on Hysteria. This paved the way for Science of Psychoanalysis. Das Capital, Volume One (Published in Germany-1867), critique of Political Economy, in every sense can be defined as laying the methodological foundations even for Modern Critical science of Psychology, which came into being as ‘Psychoanalysis’.

Here our interest is to demonstrate parallels between two Critical Sciences by comprehending the nature of Freudian Interpretation of Dreams. IOD occupies special place in History of Sciences and has become the corner stone in Human achievements. The great Historian Carl Schorske in his Article (1973), ‘Politics and patricide’ in Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams’, resurrected the epochal value of Freud’ Interpretation of Dreams. He calls Freud ‘un-riddler’ of riddles who found the key to the human conditions in the story of Oedipus. Carl Schorske quotes Freud’s political phantasy, after publication of Interpretation of Dreams. It provided immense “boost to public enthusiasm and resultant recognition of role of sexuality (Eros) by ‘His Majesty’, the interpretation of Dreams being confirmed by Parliament and by ‘his Majesty”, by Council of Ministers recognition of ‘and necessity of psychoanalytic therapy of Hysteria’ by two third Majority of Parliament’, which he identifies as triumph over ‘Politics”.

Carl Schorske was the first to explore the ‘Dual Structure’ of the book, First as a scientific Treaty and Second as a personal Plot- Self Analysis.  Interpretation of dreams means assigning meaning to it, means replacing it with series of mental acts having day time validity.  Transforming something ‘unintelligible’ to become intelligible. Beginning with Scientific literature dealing with dreams, it unfolds from exposition of differences of dream and waking life through Chapter by Sub-Chapter and reaches into depths of the ‘Unconscious’. Here he avoids thousands of dreams of his patients, and chooses one of his own dreams, as ‘Specimen Dream’  to avoid complexities and facilitate ‘self observations’. He plunges into ‘minutest details’ to fathom the ‘hidden meanings’ of dream. It is similar to how and why Karl Marx chooses simple commodity for interpretation.

The “surface organization is governed by its function as scientific treaties, which each chapter and section systematically expounds an aspect of dreams and their interpretations. To this scientific structure Freud explicitly subordinated the personal content of the book, designating the dreams and memories that constitute it as only material by which “I illustrated the rules of Interpretation(Sub quote)”. Freud subjected dreams of few his patients to interpretations but most importantly his own dreams and which constitute, an “incomplete but autonomous subplot of his own personal history”, ‘Self Analysis’. Carl Schorske compares this with ‘Saint Augustine weaving his confessions into ‘City of God’ or Rousseau integrating his confessions as sublimated Plot into ‘Origins of Inequality”.  The visible structure Freud leads the readers upwards through exposition of ‘Dream Work’  which is a process consisting of four parallel running but simultaneously interwoven integrating processes cum activities – four successive activities: condensation, displacement, means of representation and secondary revision, symbolic representations and related processes to uncover the process of ‘Inversion’ and manifestation of ‘Fetishised’, distorted, condensed expression of Imagery!

The sub plot, unfolds as a process of ‘Self Analysis’, in which he encounters his own ‘resistance’ and overcomes ‘layers of repressions’, to weave together the ‘memories’, through a process, series of mental activities, marked with backward and forward movements and reaches down into plethora of rebellious ‘Instincts’ to ‘stir up the hail’. Very appropriately, his ‘Interpretation of Dreams’, process marked with regression and progression,  is inscribed with poetic lines of Virgil from his Epic poetry, Aeneids, “If I cannot bend the Higher Powers I will stir up the Infernal Regions” to picture and portray the efforts of the repressed instinctual instincts.

Sigmund Freud, Patricide and his ‘Counter political Psychology’.

The rise of Anti- Semitism in 1895 Austria and rise of New Right’ affected Freud in both ways, his social upbringing and his professional life. The more his social and personal life was acutely threatened (1897), the more flowered became his imaginations.  First, It is interesting to note that number of his dreams ‘to free himself from ‘Anti Semitism’ acquired prominence. The liberal culture of Vienna suffered heavily with 1895 Vienna Victory of Karl Lueger (with his racial prejudice with anti Semite socio political agenda and who is credited with providing first model for Adolf Hitler’s Nazism). While reading Series of his dreams, few involving his father, we are led into most astonishing dream which he identifies as ‘Revolutionary Fantasy or Dream’. Reference Dream is that of ‘Count Thun’, ‘The Autocrat’, nationalist’ of August 1898 August!  Freud provides complete details of socio political background and the precipitating events. He identifies Count Thun at Westbanhhof platform. He exhibited aristocratic pomp and arrogant behavior. Through series of scenes, he found Count Thun at University student gathering offering contemptuous remarks. Freud suddenly rose in anger and provided befitting replies! He identified himself in dream with Adolf Fischof, the student leader of 1848 Revolution and the politician!

After passing through various scenarios’, involving his fellow student, Victor Adler (Leader of Austrian Social Democracy) Freud digs out his buried wishes of political role. Leaving away his outburst, Freud escapes from the scene and lands on to ‘railway station’ and in company of a man appearing to be blind. Freud offers him a ‘Male Glass Urinal’ helping the blind man to urinate. Here the man’s attitude and the micturating penis appeared in ‘Plastic Form’ (IOD –p 232). Freud identifies this old man as his dying father. Freud in dream takes vengeance against his father who had scolded Freud the child who urinated in the bad and for tearing apart picture book. The ‘Patricide’ was complete, the strong man helped his week father to urinate. The Defiance and outburst against Count Thun finally  culminates into ‘Patricide” and in which he discovers the meaning. Carl Schorske rightly states, “As father replaces the Prime Minister on the station Platform Patricide replaces Politics”! Here he connects victory over father as victory over Politics. Freud reiterates his Political theory,” Politics is reducible to the ‘primal conflict between Father and Son’. Conquest of father who replaces the king, Count Thun and Patricide replaces the regicide. But Psychoanalysis overcomes history and politics is replaced by Counter political Psychology and works out the method of ‘self control’.     

Sigmund Freud who himself was the part of process of racial victimization and hatred could readily grasp the ‘thought distortions’ under the impact of ‘Censorship’ promulgated by ‘Repression’. He could conceptualize, ‘Repression’, Censorship’ and discover within ‘dream’ interpretation the most protracted and difficult process of thought and imagination and uncovered in the womb of distortions the process which can be defined as ‘Making of Fetishism’. The discovery of process of inversion through the Interpretation of inversions in the Night hours of Human Sleep and stirred up by drives within the ‘ Unconscious thought processes greatest historical breakthrough in modern science after Karl Marx!

Freudian Paradigms- Interpretation of Dreams

We have seen in brief the socio- historical context of European Capitalism the milieu in which   was rooted the career of young Sigmund Freud. He made rapid progress in his medical profession, by learning from his failure with Cocaine therapy and switching over to therapy of Traumatic Hysteria AND SUBSEQUENTLY Neurosis by joining hands with Joseph Breuer (Neurologist)! It was million dollar discovery that symptoms of Hysteria was to recreate in the mind of the patient the event which caused it and inducing the patient to speak or talk out the feelings and images associated with it. Freud himself reiterated that the Credit of Birth of Psychoanalysis goes to Breuer, “If it is a merit to have brought psychoanalysis into being, that merit is not mine. —-when another Viennese physician, Dr Josef Breuer first (in 1880-2) made use of this procedure on a girl who was suffering from hysteria”. However Freud’s merit lies in developing, elaborate technique of reconstructing repressed memories through interpretation of Symptoms and Imagery through patient’s free-associations. This method of evoking the ideas which have been buried in to ‘Unconscious’ or even been concealed thoughts ‘appearing’ as symptoms or distorted images and thoughts.

Today we can ask whether or can Psychoanalysis equip us in supplementing Karl Marx’s Paradigm and do both of them have compatibility of any kind? Two questions, Firstly whether it stands in congruence with Marx’s Paradigm projecting Human Emancipation from Repressive Slavery and exploitation and secondly whether it has made beginning towards taking on socio- political phenomena equivalent to Nazism? Freud’s dream interpretation is used as a paradigm exploring , particularly after 1910 to go beyond Interpretation of Dreams which stands on the border line of Individual and social psychology and traverse into Socio Psychology. The partial realization of how social and economic forces which are rendered invisible during the Interpretative process can be responsible for regression in group or mass psychology and hence the need to transcend. Freud faced with new situation with First World War began transcending his ‘individualistic’ approach with –Group Psychology and Analysis of Ego (1921), The Ego and the Id (1923), The Loss of Reality in Neurosis and Psychosis (1924), Civilization and its Discontent (1930),  A Comment on Anti-Semitism (1938)

Psychoanalysis as a discipline born in 1880’s as part of Psychology and Medical discipline provides new rules of interpretation of ‘Mental Sickness’ of Humans under modern Epoch and its socio – Historical conditions. Since it was born in the milieu marked by rampant rise of ‘mental disorders’ and at the same time Freud as individual had to confront Anti- Semitism it became a science which equipped humans to understand one’s ‘Self’, how and why human mind operates and articulates in specific ways. In the process attempts to provide solutions by offering interpretative techniques, methods and treatment, which paves the way for a rigorous but conflicts ridden emancipation process of ‘Self Discovery’, of progression amidst ‘regression’ and achieve synthesis and ‘self control’. Secondly the material the Discipline confronts is human behavior, human utterances, narrations, speeches, dreams, disorders and how Human mind operates, how one’s own mind and minds of ‘others’ operate. Its road is ‘progression’, involved in interpretive and ‘liberative’ process simultaneously. Hence treatment of the patient works through layers upon layers of his repression. Hence Freudian Paradigm is focused on dream interpretation, attempt to develop or present a paradigm, a Model which has both ‘objective’ Framework and ‘Subjective’ technique to synthesize a cohesive picture of complex problems confronting the community and offer way forward with a methodology to resolve the problem.

Dream is remarkable product and is ‘devoid of ‘rationality’ or ‘Logical Relationships’. Hence Freud discovers that, “One and one only of these logical relations is very highly favored by the mechanism of


dream-formation; namely, the relation of similarity, consonance or approximation— the relation of ‘just as”. This relation of similarity is assisted by the tendency of the dream-work towards condensation. This method of representation by means of identification assists evasion of censorship due to resistance. Freud says, “the censorship imposed by resistance, and represent ability, operates simultaneously in a conducive and selective sense upon the mass of material present in the dream-thoughts”. “The reduction and the evasion of the resistance—are simultaneously made possible by the state of sleep (572).Dream as a whole is a distorted substitute for unconscious Material. Distortion in dreams is the result of a censoring activity which is directed against unacceptable and rebellious unconscious wishful impulses. Freudian method and techniques of interpretation works against this ‘Irrationality’ and repression which smashes the ‘logical relationships. Freud believed that the interpretation of dreams is the royal road to knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind

What Freud investigated into was phenomena called dream or the ‘manifest dream’, which is an expression driven by urges and drives. Freud’s IOD and the practical, investigative and ‘interactive treatment’ encompassed and comprised’ of a Dialectical interpretative process.  It is marked by conflict of forces of – transference and counter transference and through which  Freud reaches into the Ground Work, immeasurable treasure of the thought processes, imagery and symbols, named Latent Dream. He simultaneously  comprehends the upward, ‘pre conscious’ and conscious articulation of processes, activities in the form of ‘Manifest’ dream’ stimulated and driven by sexual and other Drives!  During night hours, with relaxation and mitigation of censorship and reduction of resistance, mainly the sexual and destructive drives attempt to push forward for the expression of Latent Dream thoughts and Images. Under the Pressure of surviving resistance during sleep the phenomena called Dream makes its appearance as attempt for satisfaction of these Drives


It was only William Reich, in his writing “The Mass Psychology…..” (he had started to do in 1931), squarely articulated the problem. Reich confronted Reich was: Why do the working masses allow  themselves to be mobilized into movements that are manifestly opposed to their economic interests? This riddle, he argued, could not be solved ‘economically’; there was no economic explanation for it. The NAZI ‘ideology’ as termed by William Reich when overflows on to the streets as material force is guided by ‘distorted’ imagery. His conception of ideology as a material force (materielle Gewalt), the ‘biopsychological’ grounding of ideology in the psychic structures molded by family, by ‘tradition’ and by a repressed and often brutalized sexuality; . Rapid and vehemently aggressive Rise of Nazism marked a major challenge to German and European leftwing political parties, Working Class Trade Union Organization, Intellectuals. Significant Number of them realized the need to understand, interpret and effectively to counter NAZI march and advance.

“Freudo’ Marxists’ engaged  themselves to comprehend NAZI Phenomena, likened to Dreams, phantasies, Hysteric Outbursts, vengeance studded actions directed towards ‘enemies’ of ‘German Nation’.  All equal to ‘psychic’ disorders’!   The comprehension of the phenomena only through Marxist Paradigm appeared to be inadequate. Hence Freudo’ Marxist relentlessly worked for creation of New Paradigm- which we can identify as Paradigm Shift

In Freud Repression is ‘internalized’ incarnation, crystallization of external force in psychic layers upon layers , both in life of social individuals and inherited from ancestral, archaic and cultural social pre history. Freud’s Dream interpretation has been the greatest discovery which developed ‘suggestion’ method of ‘Stimulation’ for awakening of suppressed memories.- impaired memories. Freud says, “The dream work leads us into individual prehistory, his childhood and on the other hand into socio cultural prehistory.  Individual somehow recapitulates in abbreviated form the entire development of human prehistory to ( Introductory Lessons of Psychoanalysis- 1916-17) make very significant point which brings out difference between Sigmund Freud’s and Marx’s concept of progression and regression in Human Cultural History.

Freud’s series of concepts, Repression, Regression and ‘Return of ‘Repressed’ are mile stone or breakthrough discoveries demarcating his methodology and techniques of Scientific Interpretation of Dreams and symptom formations. The force of instincts ‘opens up’, ‘week spots’ of ‘substitutive satisfaction, which comes to light as a symptom, without the acquiescence of the ego, but also without its understanding. All the phenomena of the formation of symptoms may justly be described as the ‘return of the repressed’.  They include, derivatives such as fantasies, slips of tongue, para-praxisis also.“Their distinguishing characteristic, however, is the far-reaching distortion to which the returning material has been subjected as compared with the original. (Moses and Monotheism, 1939). return from a higher to a lower stage of development – then repression too can be subsumed under the concept of regression, for it too can be described as a return to an earlier and deeper stage in the development of a psychical act”.

However it was after the world war two, number of American Intellectuals worked on the Foundations of Freud’s Transition to Paradigm No. Two, ‘Return of the Repressed” and have dedicated themselves to understand and Interpret  Nazism in terms of its Origins, as phenomena, propaganda and Culture and to reach to the roots of it for building the scientific Models. Important of them have been Harold Lasswell, (leading American political Scientist and communication theorist, Richard Koenigsberg (Director of Liabrary and Social Sciences) and Nicholas Godrick Clarke (A specialist on NAZI Ideology) All three of them have made extensive contributions on behavior and psychopathology!  Lasswell spent most of 1927-28 year in Berlin undergoing psychoanalysis at the hands of Theodor Reik, a student of Freud. He can be credited as making systematic attempt to interpret unconscious oedipal and libidinal tendencies as powerful bulwark on rational, object-oriented behavior, which can be mitigated by psychotherapy.

 waking life

Freud’s ‘Return of the Repressed” provided New Wings to Freudians and Marxists. To comprehend the phenomena and the underlying forces meant that their struggle to discover the anomalies and deviations from the expected political thought processes moved into directions of ‘Mass Psychology’ or ‘Group Psychology’. His fresh Paradigm suggest that it possesses the capacity to interpret its multiple meanings, the network of thought processes and the hidden ‘Archaic’ , the symbolism, the signs which goes into its ‘Making of the  Phantasies”.

Post World War Attempts towards Political Analysis of Nazism

Richard Koenigsberg on the other hand made brave attempts to understand Dynamics of ‘Unconscious Phantasies. He has interpreted NAZISM as reaction and response to certain evolving historical situation, which he terms as ‘Oedipal Situation’. Heis reference of enquiry was ‘Social structure dominated by ‘Monopoly and Large Capital’ engaged in intensified competition with ‘Others’. ,. He asks, “Under what circumstances, and historical antecedent events could Adolf Hitler’s ‘unconscious’ Phantasm and the  ‘Shared’ Phantasy of ‘saving motherland’,  could energize and stimulate the ‘latent tendencies’ or the destructive desires springing from ‘Oedipus Complex’, of large groups from the German Social Structure got activated and sought expression in ‘Reality” of ‘social action?  He sought for social- Historical explanation of this cultural political phenomenon.

Richards further explains that ‘mass murder’ of Jews and ‘Anti- Semitic’ propaganda as tool designed to for realization of profound goals of Nazism’. “to unite the German people against common enemy“ to compel the men and women to project those unconscious ‘personalized’ phantasies  upon others, ON THE STAGE OF HISTORY. He worked out how the Individual psychology is TRANSLATED INTO ‘Group Psychology”. “As per it. Richards brings to reader’s notice that in MEIN KAMF’, Hitter discusses about the family life of the German proletariat, Hitler’s attention is drawn to the quarrels between parents; he observes that they often take the form of “Brutal attacks of the father against the mother”. Thus like William Reich, Richards succeeds in focusing upon the phenomenal form of resurrection of Oedipal Complex even amongst the ranks of proletariat! Like William Reich, he brings out the ‘Authoritarian Family Structure’ of German society and reasons why Hitler could focus upon the “sadistic treatment of the mother by the father”, the child’s observation of “drunken beatings,” states, “At the age of six the pitiable little boy suspects the existence of things which can inspire an adult with nothing but horror”. However he advances over Reich’s emphasis on ‘Authoritarian’ Family structure and explore the origins and energization of Patriotic Phantasies their becoming psychically relevant what “antecedent psychologically significant events increased the probability that these latent tendencies would be activated and seek expression in reality?, dynamics of unconscious phantasm”

He analyzed the NAZI Propaganda Films by applying Freud’s Dream Interpretation to interpretation of political thought processes of NAZIS.  He focused on underground history, concerned with the myths, symbols, and fantasies that bear on the development of reactionary, authoritarian, and Nazi styles of thinking”. He focused on this unexamined topic of history because “fantasies can achieve a causal status once they have been institutionalized in beliefs, values, and social groups. Goodrick-Clarke (Occult Roots of NAZISM), the dream work is a process consists of four parallel running but simultaneously interwoven integrating processes cum activities – four successive activities: condensation, displacement, representation and secondary revision to inverted, condensed, distorted, in short ‘Fetishised’ manifestations!

Lasswell is well known for his communication Model and analysis of mass propaganda. He has asserted that only when ‘Patriotism’ is vigorously supported by propaganda which reaches into depths of ‘unconscious’ ‘hate crimes’ are activated and atrocities can result. He analyzed NAZI propaganda Films to identify mechanisms of inciting and perusing to garner support of German Population for Hitler and for war time atrocities. During World War II, Lasswell held the position of Chief of the Experimental Division for the Study of War Time Communications at the Library of Congress. One of his book Psychopathology and Politics became well known and popular. Lasswell’s work was important in the post-World War II development of studies on Behavioralism.

NAZISM was an explicit articulation or outbreak of Mass Hysteria well rooted in such ‘Oedipus Fantasies’ fundamentally as “Return of the Repressed”. The repressed ‘returns on the surface with force and energy’.  It represented by symbols and signs from prehistory and manifested as pathological phenomena.


In the wake of rise of Freudo- Marxism also developed its opponents within the ranks of Marxists rather from the Stalinist Loyalists and Sympathizers.  Numbers of Marxists contemporaries to Freud have been his opponents as well. For illustration, George Lukacs and J.D Bernel have identified Freud as victim of individualistic philosophies and who has attempted to push the human history in retrograde, into past. Bernel states “Freudian interaction seeks to set up the individual and the bourgeois individual at that, as the centre and measure of all things”. George Lukacs also reiterates that Freudian method has a bias “towards starting out from the human being artificially insulated, isolated — through capitalist society and its production system”. Their criticism remained confined to individualistic moorings of Psychoanalysis and never pips into Freud’s methodology.

If we understand that Psychoanalysis was born within the socio-historical melio marked with rampant inflation of Anti – Semitism. Freud’s second paradigm, which evolved after 1910, stands as a proof that Freud understood the need to comprehend ‘Civilization and its Discontent’ and transcend the Individualistic limitations. Marxist Opponents of Freud like George Lukacs and others in 1930’s and Forties could have noticed that despite Freud’s Individualistic Philosophical moorings Marxists stand to enrich theory from Freudian endeavors. Freud’s concepts of ‘Repression, Resistance and Regressions’ could have helped them to

In Freud’s IOD, the Dream Work represents the Metamorphosis of Latent Content of Dream into Manifest Content. His chapter ‘Means of Representation’ is specifically dedicated to discuss the process of ‘Inversion”. Freud illustrates ‘Up & Down” dream as ‘prototype’ of it. He stresses that “inversion, or transformation into the opposite, is one of the most favored and most versatile methods of representation which the dream-work has at its disposal”. This chapter can provide wings to Marxists in taking forward Marx’s Methodology.

Lasswell and other post war Historians like Carl Schorske and other Intellectuals with Freudian influence have brought us closer to understand Freudian Paradigms and confront them with Marx’s Paradigm, to understand surprising compatibility, underlying dialectics of rebellion and repression and their differences as well. Also to understand Psychoanalytic Interpretations of textual, verbal and all other forms of Manifest thought processes, including the Political thoughts and to reach down into core of the latent thought processes and the distortions, condensations and so on and to reconstruct it. Psychoanalysis has potentials to provide integrated support to Marxist theory and practice because Psychoanalysis is by birth ‘Anti- Semantic’, interpretative and supportive of emancipatory process. Its core methodology and techniques is founded within ‘Master Slave’ dialectic. It possesses the potentials to help Marxism and working class leadership to understand integrities involved in class aspirations towards social and self control. In every sense, Marx’s and Freudian endeavors have common and unified aim of “bringing the irrational, instinctual forces under ‘self control’ and emancipation.

Revolutionary kernel of Freudian discoveries- lies in entire gamut related to dialectical Methodology of enquiry, treatment and ‘Self Analysis’. The process of psychoanalytic cure pictures or portrays the efforts of the Slave under the guidance of Therapist and the stages through which the struggle passes against the resistance, censorship repression or more rightly against the reification. Reading Freud’s awe inspiring interactive case studies with patients, their awakening and rising, again falling back into oblivion, to wake up again as result of positive transference, we are  reminded of the anxieties experienced while reading Leon Trotsky’s ‘History of the Russian Revolution’ or John Read’s ‘Ten days that shook the World’. Its ups and downs, turns of events, regression and progression in the midst of historical struggle against Czarist state repression in 1905 or 1917 of Russian Revolution and finally concluding with collective political triumph of the enslaved proletarian masses

Freud’s Interpretation of Revolutionary Dream shows way forward against the criticism of ‘Individuation’ and Freud as ‘Individualist’. Hence criticism to identify Freud as ‘Individualistic’ Philosopher by George Lukach is certainly one sided and his criticism are peripheral in content.  Every Freudian successful treatment transcends ‘individuation’ and are creative articulations. Psychoanalysis deals with individuals but demonstrates its potential to transcend its own founding limitations. Freud’s transition from psychology to sociology from ‘Totem and Taboo’ and explicit turn ‘Group Psychology and the Analysis of Ego (1921) demonstrates his forays into ‘Social’.

Freudian theory can impact Marx’s vision in field of concepts, such as Repression, Return of ‘Repressed’, Transference, the most tedious relationship between ‘Latent’ and ‘manifest expressions’ in social, political, cultural and historical areas and can add immense value to Marxist ‘praxis’.   Freudo- Marxist, beginning with Reich have attempted to bridge the apparently yawning gap between, Marxist Socio Historical methodology and ‘Freudian ‘Individualism! It is not easy to do so and needs immeasurable efforts to do so. However the confrontation of Paradigms indicate how close their methodologies of Interpretation and have parallel techniques are. Both approach the object of interpretation- from the manifest appearance and traverse towards the Essence and return to appearance in the footsteps of W.G.F. Hegel. Karl Marx brings out the inevitability of ‘Social Control’. On the other hand Sigmund Freud shows the way forward toward ‘Self Control” and emancipation. Both begin their Interpretations from ‘Appearance’ and encounter ‘repression’ and ‘resistance’ to reach into the realms of ‘Essence’. – A method which can be defined as ‘working through’.

Hence though the Freudian and Marx’s Paradigms are founded on different socio- Historical terrains, they do not stand in conflict with each other. The Freudian Model portrays the function and role of Positive Transference lends it the directions to free from ‘Censorship’ and helps the subject to attempt to struggle to attain the goal of Emancipation.  Like the Marx’s Model, Freudian Model or Paradigm is an upward process which unveils Fetishistic regressive ‘Distortions’, displacements which are equivalents of inversion. To build bridges between Marx’s and Freudian Paradigm however remains a long drawn out process may be from within Working Class Movement.

Anil Pundlik Gokhale is an Engineer by profession. As a non regular writer on political literature I have always been attempting to integrate Psychology and Marxism. I have recently published books ‘Condensation And Condescension In Dreams And History: Essay – From Sigmund Freud To E P Thompson’ by Author House London. Psychoanalysis & A- Historical Story of GENGHIS KHAN, Author House- London.




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