Quotes from book
The Mass Psychology of Fascism

The Mass Psychology of Fascism
Wilhelm ReichOriginal title Die Massenpsychologie des Faschismus (German, 1933)

The Mass Psychology of Fascism is a 1933 book by the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, in which the author explores how fascists come into power, and explains their rise as a symptom of sexual repression.


Wilhelm Reich photo

„In its pure form, fascism is the sum total of all irrational reactions of the average human character.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Preface to the Third Edition (August 1942)<!---->
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933)
Context: In its pure form, fascism is the sum total of all irrational reactions of the average human character. To the narrow-minded sociologist who lacks the courage to recognize the enormous role played by the irrational in human history, the fascist race theory appears as nothing but an imperialistic interest or even a mere "prejudice." The violence and the ubiquity of these "race prejudices" show their origin from the irrational part of the human character. The race theory is not a creation of fascism. No: fascism is a creation of race hatred and its politically organized expression. Correspondingly, there is a German, Italian, Spanish, Anglo-Saxon, Jewish and Arabian fascism.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„In this strictly Marxist sense, the capitalistic system continues to exist in Russia. And it will continue to exist as long as the masses of people continue to lack responsibility and to crave authority.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Preface to the Third Edition (August 1942)
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933)
Context: In the strictly Marxist sense, there is not even in Soviet Russia a state socialism but a state capitalism. According to Marx, the social condition "capitalism" does not consist in the existence of individual capitalists, but in the existence of the specific "capitalist mode of production", that is, in the production of exchange values instead of use values, in wage work of the masses and in the production of surplus value, which is appropriated by the state or the private owners, and not by the society of working people. In this strictly Marxist sense, the capitalistic system continues to exist in Russia. And it will continue to exist as long as the masses of people continue to lack responsibility and to crave authority.

Wilhelm Reich photo
Wilhelm Reich photo

„Work democracy does not wish to prevent or prohibit anything. Its only intention is the fulfilment of the biological life functions, of love, work and knowledge.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy

Wilhelm Reich photo
Wilhelm Reich photo

„In the strictly Marxist sense, there is not even in Soviet Russia a state socialism but a state capitalism.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Preface to the Third Edition (August 1942)
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933)
Context: In the strictly Marxist sense, there is not even in Soviet Russia a state socialism but a state capitalism. According to Marx, the social condition "capitalism" does not consist in the existence of individual capitalists, but in the existence of the specific "capitalist mode of production", that is, in the production of exchange values instead of use values, in wage work of the masses and in the production of surplus value, which is appropriated by the state or the private owners, and not by the society of working people. In this strictly Marxist sense, the capitalistic system continues to exist in Russia. And it will continue to exist as long as the masses of people continue to lack responsibility and to crave authority.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„It remains to be seen what part politics will play in the eradication of the political emotional plague and what part the consciously organized functions of love, work and knowledge.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: For a decade, the politics of the European dictators was unrivalled. In order to comprehend the essence of politics, one only has to remember that it was a Hitler who, for many years, was able to keep the world breathless. Hitler as a political genius was a magnificent unmasking of the essence of politics in general. With Hitler, politics reached the peak of its development. We know what were its fruits and what was the reaction of the world. In brief, I believe that the twentieth century, with its gigantic catastrophes, ushers in a new social era, an era free of politics. It remains to be seen what part politics will play in the eradication of the political emotional plague and what part the consciously organized functions of love, work and knowledge.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„When I say "animal," I do not mean anything bad, cruel or "base"; I am stating a biological fact.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: MAN IS FUNDAMENTALLY AN ANIMAL. Animals, as distinct from man, are not machine-like, not sadistic; their societies, within the same species, are incomparably more peaceful than those of man. The basic question, then is: What has made the animal, man, degenerate into a machine?
When I say "animal," I do not mean anything bad, cruel or "base"; I am stating a biological fact. Man has developed the peculiar concept that he is not an animal at all, but, well — man; a creature which long since has shed that which is "bad," which is "animal." He demarcates himself in all possible ways from the bad animal and points, in proof of his "being better," to culture and civilization which distinguish him from the animal. He shows, in his whole behavior, his "theories of values," his moral philosophies, his "monkey trials" and such, that he does not want to be reminded of the fact that basically he is an animal, an animal, furthermore, which has much more in common with the "animal" than with that being which he asserts to be and dreams of being. The theory of the German Übermensch has this origin. Man shows by his maliciousness, his inability to live in peace with his kind, his wars, that what distinguishes him from the other animals is only his unbounded sadism and the mechanical trinity of the authoritarian concept of life, mechanistic science and the machine. If one looks at the results of civilization as they present themselves over long periods of time, one finds that these contentions of man are not only erroneous; more than that, they seem to be made expressly for the purpose of making man forget that he is an animal.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„The basic question, then is: What has made the animal, man, degenerate into a machine?“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: MAN IS FUNDAMENTALLY AN ANIMAL. Animals, as distinct from man, are not machine-like, not sadistic; their societies, within the same species, are incomparably more peaceful than those of man. The basic question, then is: What has made the animal, man, degenerate into a machine?
When I say "animal," I do not mean anything bad, cruel or "base"; I am stating a biological fact. Man has developed the peculiar concept that he is not an animal at all, but, well — man; a creature which long since has shed that which is "bad," which is "animal." He demarcates himself in all possible ways from the bad animal and points, in proof of his "being better," to culture and civilization which distinguish him from the animal. He shows, in his whole behavior, his "theories of values," his moral philosophies, his "monkey trials" and such, that he does not want to be reminded of the fact that basically he is an animal, an animal, furthermore, which has much more in common with the "animal" than with that being which he asserts to be and dreams of being. The theory of the German Übermensch has this origin. Man shows by his maliciousness, his inability to live in peace with his kind, his wars, that what distinguishes him from the other animals is only his unbounded sadism and the mechanical trinity of the authoritarian concept of life, mechanistic science and the machine. If one looks at the results of civilization as they present themselves over long periods of time, one finds that these contentions of man are not only erroneous; more than that, they seem to be made expressly for the purpose of making man forget that he is an animal.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will not cease to ring as long as man feels himself captive.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague;
Variant translation: The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will never cease as long as man feels himself to be trapped. No matter how different the cries for freedom may be, at bottom they always express one and the same thing: the intolerableness of the organism's rigidity and the mechanical institutions of life, which are sharply at variance with the natural sensations of life. ... Not until man acknowledges that he is fundamentally an animal, will he be able to create a genuine culture.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will not cease to ring as long as man feels himself captive. As diverse as the cries for freedom may be, basically they all express one and the same thing: The intolerability of the rigidity of the organism and of the machine-like institutions which create a sharp conflict with the natural feelings for life. Not until there is a social order in which all cries for freedom subside will man have overcome his biological and social crippling, will he have attained genuine freedom. Not until man is willing to recognize his animal nature — in the good sense of the word — will he create genuine culture.

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Wilhelm Reich photo

„It is an essential part of our social tragedy that people, like farmers, the industrial workers, the medical profession, etc., influence the social process not only by their work, but also — and even predominantly — by political ideologies.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: It is an essential part of our social tragedy that people, like farmers, the industrial workers, the medical profession, etc., influence the social process not only by their work, but also — and even predominantly — by political ideologies. For political activity hampers objective, rational activity; it splits professional organizations into warring ideological groups; it disorganizes the industrial workers: it restricts the work of the physician and harms the patients, etc. In brief, political activity prevents precisely what it pretends to achieve: peace, work, security, international cooperation, objective expression of opinion, freedom of belief, etc.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„The suppression of natural sexual gratification leads to various kinds of substitute gratifications.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Source: The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 1 : Ideology As Material Power, Section 4 : The Social Function of Sexual Suppression
Context: The suppression of natural sexual gratification leads to various kinds of substitute gratifications. Natural aggression, for example, becomes brutal sadism which then is an essential mass-psychological factor in imperialistic wars.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„Work-democracy adds a decisive piece of knowledge to the scope of ideas related to freedom.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 1 : Give Responsibility to Vitally Necessary Work!
Variant translation: Work democracy introduces into liberal thinking a decisive new insight: the working masses who carry the burden of social existence are not conscious of their social responsibility. Nor are they — as the result of thousands of years of suppression of rational thinking, of the natural love function and of the scientific comprehension of living functioning — capable of the responsibility for their own freedom. Another insight contributed by work democracy is the finding that politics is in itself and of necessity unscientific: it is an expression of human helplessness, impoverishment and suppression.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: Work-democracy adds a decisive piece of knowledge to the scope of ideas related to freedom. The masses of people who work and bear the burden of social existence on their shoulders neither are conscious of their social responsibility nor are they capable of assuming the responsibility for their own freedom. This is the result of the century-long suppression of rational thinking, the natural functions of love, and scientific comprehension of the living. Everything related to the emotional plague in social life can be traced back to this incapacity and lack of consciousness. It is work-democracy's contention that, by its very nature, politics is and has to be unscientific, i. e., that it is an expression of human helplessness, poverty, and suppression.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„Everything related to the emotional plague in social life can be traced back to this incapacity and lack of consciousness. It is work-democracy's contention that, by its very nature, politics is and has to be unscientific, i.e., that it is an expression of human helplessness, poverty, and suppression.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 1 : Give Responsibility to Vitally Necessary Work!
Variant translation: Work democracy introduces into liberal thinking a decisive new insight: the working masses who carry the burden of social existence are not conscious of their social responsibility. Nor are they — as the result of thousands of years of suppression of rational thinking, of the natural love function and of the scientific comprehension of living functioning — capable of the responsibility for their own freedom. Another insight contributed by work democracy is the finding that politics is in itself and of necessity unscientific: it is an expression of human helplessness, impoverishment and suppression.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: Work-democracy adds a decisive piece of knowledge to the scope of ideas related to freedom. The masses of people who work and bear the burden of social existence on their shoulders neither are conscious of their social responsibility nor are they capable of assuming the responsibility for their own freedom. This is the result of the century-long suppression of rational thinking, the natural functions of love, and scientific comprehension of the living. Everything related to the emotional plague in social life can be traced back to this incapacity and lack of consciousness. It is work-democracy's contention that, by its very nature, politics is and has to be unscientific, i. e., that it is an expression of human helplessness, poverty, and suppression.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„Not until man is willing to recognize his animal nature — in the good sense of the word — will he create genuine culture.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague;
Variant translation: The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will never cease as long as man feels himself to be trapped. No matter how different the cries for freedom may be, at bottom they always express one and the same thing: the intolerableness of the organism's rigidity and the mechanical institutions of life, which are sharply at variance with the natural sensations of life. ... Not until man acknowledges that he is fundamentally an animal, will he be able to create a genuine culture.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will not cease to ring as long as man feels himself captive. As diverse as the cries for freedom may be, basically they all express one and the same thing: The intolerability of the rigidity of the organism and of the machine-like institutions which create a sharp conflict with the natural feelings for life. Not until there is a social order in which all cries for freedom subside will man have overcome his biological and social crippling, will he have attained genuine freedom. Not until man is willing to recognize his animal nature — in the good sense of the word — will he create genuine culture.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„Revolutionary practice in any field of human existence develops by itself if one comprehends the contradictions in every new process; it consists in siding with those forces which act in the direction of progressive development.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Source: The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 1 : Ideology As Material Power, Section 1 : The Divergence Of Ideology And Economic Situation
Context: Revolutionary practice in any field of human existence develops by itself if one comprehends the contradictions in every new process; it consists in siding with those forces which act in the direction of progressive development. To be radical, according to Marx, means "going to the root of things." If one goes to the root of things, if one understands their contradictory character, the means of mastering the reaction become plain.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„If "freedom" means, first of all, the responsibility of every individual for the rational determination of his own personal, professional and social existence, then there is no greater fear than that of the establishment of general freedom.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 2 : The Biological Miscalculation in the Human Struggle for Freedom
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: If "freedom" means, first of all, the responsibility of every individual for the rational determination of his own personal, professional and social existence, then there is no greater fear than that of the establishment of general freedom. Without a thoroughgoing solution of this problem there never will be a peace lasting longer than one or two generations. To solve this problem on a social scale, it will take more thinking, more honesty and decency, more conscientiousness, more economic, social and educational changes in social mass living than all the efforts made in previous and future wars and post-war reconstruction programs taken together.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„The fact that political ideologies are tangible realities is not a proof of their vitally necessary character. The bubonic plague was an extraordinarily powerful social reality, but no one would have regarded it as vitally necessary.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague;
Variant translation: The fact that political ideologies are tangible, active realities does not prove their necessity. The bubonic plague was an extremely potent social reality. But nobody would have argued that, because it existed, it was necessary and nothing should be done about it.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy

Wilhelm Reich photo

„If, by being revolutionary, one means rational rebellion against intolerable social conditions, if, by being radical, one means "going to the root of things," the rational will to improve them, then fascism is never revolutionary.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Preface to the Third Edition (August 1942)
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933)
Context: If, by being revolutionary, one means rational rebellion against intolerable social conditions, if, by being radical, one means "going to the root of things," the rational will to improve them, then fascism is never revolutionary. True, it may have the aspect of revolutionary emotions. But one would not call that physician revolutionary who proceeds against a disease with violent cursing but the other who quietly, courageously and conscientiously studies and fights the causes of the disease. Fascist rebelliousness always occurs where fear of the truth turns a revolutionary emotion into illusions.

Wilhelm Reich photo

„In part by their apathy, in part by their passivity, and in part actively, these masses of people make possible the catastrophes under which they themselves suffer more than anybody else. To stress this guilt on the part of masses of people, to hold them solely responsible, means to take them seriously.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague;
Variant translation: Under the influence of politicos, the masses blame the powers that be for wars. In the first world war it was the munition magnates, in the second the Psychopath General. This is shifting the responsibility. The blame for the war belongs only and alone to the same masses of people who have all the means of preventing wars. The same masses of people who — partly through indolent passivity, partly through their active behavior — make possible the catastrophes from which they themselves suffer most horribly. To emphasize this fault of the masses, to give them the full responsibility, means taking them seriously. On the other hand, to pity the masses as a poor victim means treating them like a helpless child. The first is the attitude of the genuine fighter for freedom, the latter is the attitude of the politico.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: Under the influence of politicians, masses of people tend to ascribe the responsibility for wars to those who wield power at any given time. In World War I it was the munitions industrialists; in World War II it was the psychopathic generals who were said to be guilty. This is passing the buck. The responsibility for war falls solely upon the shoulders of these same masses of people, for they have all the necessary means to avert war in their own hands. In part by their apathy, in part by their passivity, and in part actively, these masses of people make possible the catastrophes under which they themselves suffer more than anybody else. To stress this guilt on the part of masses of people, to hold them solely responsible, means to take them seriously. On the other hand, to commiserate masses of people as victims, means to treat them as small, helpless children. The former is the attitude held by genuine freedom-fighters; the latter the attitude held by the power-thirsty politicians.

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