Wilhelm Reich was an eccentric and controversial thinker-writer for sure.
Some hold him up as a hero, a great mind that society refused to accept –or else it should acknowledge its abnormality. Some others think of him as a madman, a typical mad-scientist figure.
Whoever has read books of his like Listen, Little Man!, The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Character Analysis, The Murder of Christ, The Sexual Revolution will verify that he was an excellent (to say the least) writer.
The core of Reich’s theory, aside his Marxist pursuits, is sexuality and orgasm (he studied under Freud, mind you).
The 60s revolution of the youth was based also on his book The Sexual Revolution which was published in 1936.
Reich maintained that no sexually repressed man can behave like a free man.
He remains “sheltered” [sic] as long as he doesn’t satisfy his need.
But he also lifts an admonitory finger: “Sexual revolution is no indulgence. Once a hungry man finds themselves before a table full of food, they will stuff themselves until they vomit, whereas the Consummate Man knows exactly what and how much they need to eat.”
Reich was one of the first thinkers who pointed out that every form of fascism (political, financial, state, religious) is based on sexual repression.
Christianity enforces monogamy both for men and women, putting the emphasis on the sinister adultery– and sexuality – of the latter.
In Islam, the oppression on women is even more profound since if a woman violates monogamy it could lead to her physical punishment and in some countries even to execution.
Nothing strange here. All “major” religions are patriarchal and patriarchy loathes women’s infidelity because the property of the father must be protected or else a bastard child could inherit it.
And the word bastard, illegitimate, is one of the strongest curses in patriarchal societies; one could even lose the throne because of it.
The violence of patriarchy, the male dominance, is not only a human “prerogative”.
There is a huge difference between the common chimpanzees and the bonobo chimpanzees who are our closest relatives. The former live in patriarchal societies and they are as violent as humans whereas the latter form matrilineal groups and they scarcely kill each other.
They’d rather resolve their problems through sex, practicing it all the time in every imaginable position and combination. Yes, that includes homosexual sex and they also masturbate often, sometimes even using “sex toys”. In other words, they screw around freely.
It doesn’t always work well for them because when they confront with the sexually repressed common chimpanzees, they stand no chance against their menace.
Pretty much like Europe that couldn’t fight back the repressed Germans.
In The Mass Psychology of Fascism Reich ascribes –perhaps with some overzealousness- the soldiers’ and German people robotic dedication to their Führer to sexual repression.
The symbols, the banners, the colours, the chants, the uniforms, all of them were substitutes for sex.
Someone who only fucks of gets fucked but never makes love, someone who can’t achieve resolution through sexual intercourse will express his feelings in a bad way (by fighting, killing, raping, abusing, terrorizing, cursing, oppressing).
Sexual repression leads to a new, generalized oppression.
Reich maintained that the orgasm is the foundation for a consummate personality, but he was speaking of the orgasm that issues from deeper feelings, making no mention of monogamy.
He wasn’t speaking of sex, but love (or, to be more precise, of eros – the Greek language distinguishes those two meanings).
There is a translation loss between the Anglo-Saxon “make love” and the Greek definition about it (which is very different from the verb “fuck” or the borrowed “have sex”).
And, sure enough, love, eros, sex, fuck and shag are thoughts/actions that differ greatly.
No word, mind you, is vulgar. There are no vulgar words, only vulgar people.
But we should be careful: Manipulated and, even worse, obligatory freedom is no freedom at all.
In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World monogamy is censurable. People were not allowed to choose only one partner.
And sexuality, the way it is projected from the media, seems to be lacking sentiment. Porn is sexual, but far from erotic.
What makes us fall in love is the bodily need for sex combined with the need to feed our psyche with love (eros).
Fuck offers pleasure to our flesh, but nothing to our psyche.
Humans are neither reptiles nor just mammals. Our brain consists of one more layer which is called neocortex. Reproduction is the cause (reptilian brain), pleasure is the trigger (mammals), but eros is sublimation.
Our nature commands us to reproduce. Our body wants to get satisfied. But there is also something else, something we can call it vaguely soul or spirit that seeks orgasm. This orgasm is never consummate when the body only gets its fill because then masturbation and prostitution (male or female) would suffice.
A human being asks for more. A human being asks to fall in love and wants to be loved (these meanings differ).
Wilhelm Reich died in a US prison after being expelled from numerous European countries. Probably there is no better symbolism of the puritanical vulgarity of our brave new world.
The thinker that praised the orgasm was imprisoned whereas those who propagate terrorism – be it state or religious- are promoted and elected.
We live in a patriarchal society, incapable of orgasm, where sex education is a taboo while the children are being indoctrinated with religious doctrines. At the same time, they are conditioned to praise sexism where sentiments are absent.
It doesn’t immediately leap to the eye, but they are two sides of the same coin: Puritanism and libertanism, saint or prostitute, aromantic or fuck boy. In both cases, the feeling (love or eros) is absent.
But man deprived of sentiment is not considered a man. If there is something that keeps us of our own volition in life, this something is love.
If you can’t fall in love then you miss out the quintessence of life; and if your love is a platonic one, you miss out the pleasures of the flesh.
Consummation is like an acrobat balancing on a tight rope; left or right is death.
It is this fine balance of orgasm (sex and emotion) you have to strike in order to enjoy life – because you are well aware that at some point you will inevitably fall.
Furthermore: when love is swooning, when the orgasm is consummate, then you really don’t care if one day you fall. Life becomes so strong, so hedonic that even death is but a triviality.
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Translated by Alexandros Mantas: