Psychoanalysis and Marxism

Eli Moore
Eli Moore

I've just finished reading "Marxism and Psychoanalysis" by Reuben Osborn (apparently a fake name, as I can't find an obituary for him even though he should be 100 by now) and I've read a good amount of Freud's introductory lectures and a bit of Lacan (who I don't find as compelling as Freud) and I have to say, it is very interesting and easily reconcilable with Marxist theory.

But perhaps most familiar to us all is the bourgeois mind which all the barbs of Socialist logic fail to pierce. The comfortable thought habits, underlying which are unconscious emotional trends, serve to protect the mind from disturbing ideas. The Socialist case permeates, as it were, through a medium of pre-existing emotional habits of thought, which distorts the significance of every idea expressed by the Socialist. And any detail which is really of little importance, if it seems to provide a peg upon which to hang objections, is seized upon eagerly and magnified beyond proportion. Thus we have those arguments, so exhaustive of the Socialist's patience, regarding the difficulties of apportioning dirty work, the irreconcilability of human nature to Socialism, etc. The careful explanations of the Socialists never get beyond the most superficial layer of the bourgeois mind, which is busy seeking other defence-reactions in the place of those which Socialist logic is breaking down.
And among those bourgeois who do embrace Socialism too often are those who do so because it affords an excuse to indulge in some eccentricity symptomatic of repressed impulses, denied expression in polite bourgeois society and disguising itself as a burning desire to emancipate the working class.
There are, of course, many exceptions to this. A well-developed ego enabling the individual to behave on a high level of rationality would tend to lead such bourgeois to identification with the working class, as representing the forces of progress. None the less, other factors which are inevitably associated with a revolutionary movement-revolt against sexual standards, artistic and literary orthodoxy-attract exhibitionists of all kinds, cranks and faddists who find a comfortable home in the movement to display their peculiarities. A revolutionary
movement is necessarily a movement of protest. It denounces vigorously the existing system of society, and all the possessors of disgruntled souls, with their own private little grievances and indignations arising from some particular feature only of modern society, find, in the general revolutionary protest, some solace. That is why we find so many" Marxists" who really are not interested in Marxism, who have
never troubled to get beyond a few well-worn formulre: who delight to rant and rave, and, indeed, because of their excessive noise, impress their fellow members with their extreme "sincerity," build a reputation of being good fighters in the class struggle, and become, even, leading
figures.
I referred in an earlier chapter to the irrational compulsions which are part of the emotional life of revolutionaries. They are due to an unconscious revolt against the super-ego, and very often lead to action out of harmony with objective circumstances, but which enables an expression of superego revolt. Lenin described those revolutionaries whose main tactics consisted in fierce denunciations of Parliament and Labour leaders as suffering from an "infantile disorder" of" left-wing" Communism.
That description is particularly apt, because the childish tantrums and tempers by which the rebellious feelings towards the father are displayed are likewise indulged in towards the authoritative forces of society.

Link to Freud and Marx by the same author here: thecharnelhouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/reuben-osborn-freud-and-marx-a-dialectical-study-1937.pdf

What are leftypol's takes on psychoanalysis?

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Other urls found in this thread:

gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=EA64B08AE2613A62882E88B14C09C04F
booksdescr.org/item/index.php?md5=448452E22E6FB7135F810E0E1E736DA9

Christopher Reyes
Christopher Reyes

Freud describes the quantity-quality relation between the conflicting forces as follows: 'You will have noticed… I have introduced a new factor into the concatenation of the aetiological chain - namely, the quantity, the magnitude of the energies concerned; we must always take this factor into account as well. A purely qualitative analysis of the aetiological conditions does not suffice… we have to realise that the conflict between the two forces in opposition does not break out until a certain intensity in the degree of investment is reached… no less important is this quantitative factor for the capacity to withstand neurotic illness; it depends upon the amount of undischarged libido that a person can hold freely suspended, and upon how large a portion of it he can deflect from the sexual to a non-sexual goal in sublimation.
If we turn to Freud's theory of dream life, the dialectical character of Freudian theory is again well-illustrated.
In dreams, according to Freud, the repressed desires gain a measure of expression denied them in waking life. In this sense, dream-life is the opposite, the Hegelian other of waking life. Its form of mental presentation is the opposite of that of waking life. In the latter, thought is general, ideas are formed through abstraction from the concrete. the concrete is perceived in terms of the abstract, whereas in dreams the abstract is presented in concrete form.

Isaac Peterson
Isaac Peterson

Psychoanalysis cannot totalise reality, nor can it predict future events in mental life, and, finally, it reveals that even the past is subjected to retroactive modifications. The past is not a state but a movement. These restrictions differentiate psychoanalysis from other positive sciences, notably from physics, medicine and biology, on which Freud wanted to construct the scientificity of his invention and which are all orientated towards the future and can presumably predict events based on the already acquired knowledge. The limits of psychoanalysis logically follow from the status of the unconscious, which is by far neither an ontological substance nor a positive entity. It entirely depends on contingent and unpredictable traumatic events and on the dynamic of linguistic structures, so that no particular case is universal enough to support the prediction of future developments, which is, in the end, an important part of the achievement of worldviews: the exclusion of contingency from reality, life and thinking. The unconscious may be marked by the absence of time, and even by the absence of contradiction, as Freud occasionally claimed, but this absence is misleading.

From gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=EA64B08AE2613A62882E88B14C09C04F

Blake Parker
Blake Parker

From the same book above:
Freud’s pessimist turn is closely related to the fact that the universality of commodity form successfully integrated scientific knowledge into the capitalist mode of production and into its articulation of desire. What Marx described as commodity fetishism stands above all for a specific transformation of desire within and through the implementation of the capitalist worldview in social and subjective reality. The four cornerstones of this worldview (freedom, equality, property and private interest) form an abstract coordinate system, in which the sharpness of revolutionary sciences is neutralised in advance.
It seems to me like capitalism as it has developed in America is extremely good at manufacturing desires which are perfectly in harmony with itself, valuing flexibility, high levels of production and consumption, obedience, and the feeling of independence while also submitting to higher powers (moral, religious, familial, whatever rational stand-in for market forces a person could want.) American media really does dominate the world and definitely helps in helping this mindset reach every corner of the globe. Even though Iran is blocked from a lot of global trade by the US, American media continues to dominate. (Not that media is the only engine for this sort of conditioning, of course.)

Blake Hill
Blake Hill

Thoughts on revisionism:

The failure of the Communist Party would then consist in the fact that, in the end, it was the worldview-form which determined the political organisation and sabotaged the invention of a new party-form, and not the other way around. This political failure is accompanied by an entire set of epistemological regressions, which have already been mentioned.
The difference between Marx’s interpretation of the proletariat as the social embodiment-personification of the truth of labour, and worldview Marxism, which promises to abolish alienation and to constitute a revolutionary subject of cognition, overlaps with the difference between truth and knowledge. The Soviet regime replaced the social embodiment of truth, the proletarian as the true subject of revolutionary politics, with a particular social embodiment of knowledge, the party as the placeholder of the collective subject of knowledge and the Subject of History.

Carson Cooper
Carson Cooper

I've been getting into a lot of basic psychoanalysis lately and doesn't Freud specifically state that he thinks a communist society wouldn't work due to the natural aggressiveness in man wanting private property? How do Marxist-Freudians differ on this? Forgive if I just misinterpreted him though
Also if anyone has an epub of Écrits then I'd be more than happy if you shared

Alexander Jenkins
Alexander Jenkins

The Soviet regime replaced the social embodiment of truth, the proletarian as the true subject of revolutionary politics, with a particular social embodiment of knowledge, the party as the placeholder of the collective subject of knowledge and the Subject of History.
As History of mankind from the dawn of civilisation is Class struggle, then the Subject of (civilised) History must be social Classes. I'm not agree with saying the Party could become collective Subject of History. The Party is only a manifest of particular side of the Subject, it isn't the totality of Subject. Where is the Party coming from? It's coming from the People! By saying the Party replacing the Proletariat, it hides the Petty-Bourgeois nature of Soviet revisionism.

Henry Roberts
Henry Roberts

Yes Freud did say something to that effect late in life. He does seem to make some assumptions about human nature, particularly concerning war. Lacan as well was rather conservative.

Luke Gomez
Luke Gomez

Pretty odd since Freud believed in primitive communism.

Jackson Martinez
Jackson Martinez

Uploaded a pdf of the original here:

booksdescr.org/item/index.php?md5=448452E22E6FB7135F810E0E1E736DA9

I ordered a book on reactionary psychology from the same author, which should be interesting. The thread about the authoritarian personality book was decent and this author references that book. He also refers to Erich Fromm who was a prominent Freudian Marxist, who was in the Frankfurt school along with Adorno who worked on the totalitarian personality book.

William Johnson
William Johnson

Anybody can fart out conjecture and substantiate their claims ex post facto.

How do you test such theory? It is not science.

Sebastian Sanders
Sebastian Sanders

History is allot more complex than simple “class struggle” you simpleton.

Zachary Wright
Zachary Wright

How do you test anything about consciousness? Psychoanalysis is about understanding the subjective aspects of human existence, obviously this is more difficult since it's less material. Which is the point of the book, how Marxism and psychoanalysis are complementary

Owen Moore
Owen Moore

You cannot achieve understanding with subjective experience. Call it what it is - conjecture.

Jayden Gutierrez
Jayden Gutierrez

Wow it's almost like the point of the book I uploaded was how psychoanalysis can help us understand the subjective experiences of people to understand why they are or are not class conscious, but this doesn't replace marxism as a tool for understanding objective situations? Thanks for contributing absolutely nothing

Brayden Ward
Brayden Ward

Psychoanalysis is a bullshit pseudoscience and a sign of the decline of bourgeois thought. I can really recommend Valentin Voloshinov's critique of Freudianism which builds on his Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. The guy was a bloody genius and prefigured (post-)structuralism 50 years ahead while already presenting a Marxist critique. Both his books are on libgen.

On Freud specifically:
Thus, what really counts in a human being is not at all what determines his place and role in history—the class, nation, historical period to which he belongs; only his sex and his age are essential, everything else being merely a superstructure. A person's consciousness is shaped not by his historical existence but by his biological being, the main facet of which is sexuality.
Such is the basic ideological motif of Freudianism.
It is an old motif. It is constantly repeated during all those periods in the development of mankind when the social groups and classes that had been the makers of history are in process of being replaced. It is the leitmotif of crisis and decline.
Whenever such a social class finds itself in a state of disintegration and is compelled to retreat from the arena of history, its ideology begins insistently to harp on one theme, which it repeats in every possible variation: Man is above all an animal. And from the vantage point of this revelation" it strives to put a new construction on all the values that make up history and the world. Meanwhile, the second part of Aristotle's famous formula—"man is a social animal"—is totally ignored.
The ideology of periods such as these shifts its center of gravity onto the isolated biological organism; the three basic events in the life of all animals—birth, copulation, and death—begin to compete with historical events in terms of ideological significance and, as it were, become a surrogate of history.
That which in man is nonsocial and nonhistorical is abstracted and advanced to the position of the ultimate measure and criterion for all that is social and historical. It is almost as if people of such periods desire to leave the atmosphere of history, which has become too cold and comfortless, and take refuge in the organic warmth of the animal side of life.
That is what happened during the period of the break-up of the Greek city states, during the decline of the Roman Empire, during the period of the disintegration of the feudal-aristocratic order before the French Revolution.
The motif of the supreme power and wisdom of Nature (above all, of man's nature—his biological drives) and of the impotence of history with its much ado about nothing—this motif equally resounds, despite differences of nuance and variety of emotional register, in such phenomena as epicureanism, stoicism, the literature of the Roman decadence (e.g. Petronius* Satyr/con), the skeptical ratiocination of the French aristocrats in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. A fear of history, a shift in orientation toward the values of personal, private life, the primacy of the biological and the sexual in man—such are the features common to all of these ideological phenomena.
And now once again, starting at the very end of the nineteenth century, motifs of the same kind have been distinctly voiced in European ideology. For twentieth century bourgeois philosophy the abstract biological organism has again become the central hero.

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David Hernandez
David Hernandez

I thought Marxists were against owning people like this.

Owen Wood
Owen Wood

freud was a socdem, mind you

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Matthew Fisher
Matthew Fisher

only his sex and his age are essential
This is a pretty gross strawman of Freud.

psychoanalysis is bourgeois pseudoscience
For one thing, Freud compares his work to that of history in "A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis". How do you explain people like the Frankfurt school, Herbert Marcuse, and Slavoj Zizek, among others, using psychoanalytic concepts to explain phenomena?
Imagine that you are not attending a psychiatric, but an historical lecture, and that the lecturer is telling you about the life and martial deeds of Alexander the Great. What would be your reasons for believing in the authenticity of his statements? At first sight, the condition of affairs seems even more unfavorable than in the case of psychoanalysis, for the history professor was as little a participant in Alexander's campaigns as you were; the psychoanalyst at least tells you of things in connection with which he himself has played some role. But then the question turns on this—what set of facts can the historian marshal in support of his position? He can refer you to the accounts of ancient authors, who were either contemporaries themselves, or who were at least closer to the events in question; that is, he will refer you to the books of Diodor, Plutarch, Arrian, etc. He can place before you pictures of the preserved coins and statues of the king and can pass down your rows a photograph of the Pompeiian mosaics of the battle of Issos. Yet, strictly speaking, all these documents prove only that previous generations already believed in Alexander's existence and in the reality of his deeds, and your criticism might begin anew at this point. You will then find that not everything recounted of Alexander is credible, or capable of proof in detail; yet even then I cannot believe that you will leave the lecture hall a disbeliever in the reality of Alexander the Great. Your decision will be determined chiefly by two considerations; firstly, that the lecturer has no conceivable motive for presenting as truth something which he does not himself believe to be true, and secondly, that all available histories present the events in approximately the same manner. If you then proceed to the verification of the older sources, you will consider the same data, the possible motives of the writers and the consistency of the various parts of the evidence. The result of the examination will surely be convincing in the case of Alexander. It will probably turn out differently when applied to individuals like Moses and Nimrod. But what doubts you might raise against the credibility of the psychoanalytic reporter you will see plainly enough upon a later occasion.

Even if it isn't a science, does this invalidate it? What about linguistics, or Leninism? Surely something can fail to reach the heights of scientific legitimacy and still be useful, no? Georg Lukacs and Erich Fromm were not scientists, but they have made important contributions as well. And the contribution of psychoanalysis, if the ideology can be sifted through, is to attempt to understand the formation of desires, choices, and all of the subjective elements of human life. This element is pretty important in bourgeois society, considering the commodity contains the contradiction between use-value and exchange-value (and Marx called this the foundation of capitalism in critique of political economy). In other words, one half of most exchanges is largely subjective, not totally rational.

Joshua Martin
Joshua Martin

From Volosinov's book:
One of Marxism's fundamental and most urgent tasks is to construct a genuinely objective psychology, which means a psychology based on sociological, not physiological or biological principles. As part and parcel of that task, Marxism faces the difficult problem of finding an objective-but also subtle and flexible-approach to the conscious, subjective human psyche over which, ordinarily, methods of introspection claim jurisdiction. This is a task which neither biology or physiology is equipped to cope with: the conscious psyche is a socioideological fact and, as such, beyond the scope of physiological methods or the methods of any other of the natural sciences. The subjective psyche is not something that can be reduced to processes occurring within the confines of the natural, animalian organism. The processes that basically define the content of the psyche occur not inside but outside the individual organism, although they involve its participation
This is the same claim that Osborn is making, although he uses psychoanalytic concepts as the foundation for his Marxist study of the psyche. It seems like the Soviet reaction against "bourgeois" psychoanalysis was a reaction against its misapplication in Europe at the time, which is fair. This is also why I made the thread. You say psychoanalysis is pseudoscientific bullshit but your source is literally Lacan:
What sort of reality pertains to the subjective psyche? The reality of the inner psyche is the same reality as that of the sign. Outside the material of signs there is no psyche; there are physiological processes, processes in the nervous system, but no subjective psyche as a special existential quality fundamentally distinct from both the physiological processes occurring within the organism and the reality encompassing the organism from outside, to which the psyche reacts and which one way or another it reflects. By its very existential nature, the subjective psyche is to be localized somewhere between the organism and the outside world, on the borderline separating these two spheres of reality. It is here that an encounter between the organism and the outside world takes place, but the encounter is not a physical one: the organism and the outside world meet here in the sign. Psychic experience is the semiotic expression of the contact between the organism and the outside environment. That is why the inner psyche is not analyzable as a thing but can only be understood and interpreted as a sign.
Replace sign with lettre and this could have been written by Lacan. *sniff*

the motif of declining societies is the supreme power and wisdom of nature/biological drives
The point of the thread wasn't to defend Freud but to talk about the relationship between psychoanalysis and Marxism. Not going to disagree that Freud's writing was flawed in multiple ways, but that doesn't mean it is all useless.

Anthony Rodriguez
Anthony Rodriguez

To explain how this is a strawman, also from Freud's introductory lecture:
I told you, too, that we hoped to gain a knowledge of the structure of the ego, and of the separate factors out of which it is built by means of the analysis of narcistic conditions. In one place we have already made a beginning. From the analysis of the maniacal delusion of being watched we concluded that in the ego there is really an agent which continually watches, criticizes and compares the other part of the ego and thus opposes it. We believe that the patient imparts to us a truth that is not yet sufficiently appreciated, when he complains that all his actions are spied upon and watched, all his thoughts recorded and criticized. He errs only in transferring this distressing force to something alien, outside of himself. He feels the dominance of a factor in his ego, which compares his actual ego and all of its activities to an ideal ego that he has created in the course of his development. We also believe that the creation of this ideal ego took place with the purpose of again establishing that self-satisfaction which is bound up with the original infantile narcism, but which since then has experienced so many disturbances and disparagements. In this self-observing agent we recognize the ego-censor, the conscience; it is the same factor which at night exercises dream-censorship, and which creates the suppressions against inadmissible wish-impulses. Under analysis in the maniacal delusion of being watched it reveals its origin in the influence of parents, tutors and social environment and in the identification of the ego with certain of these model individuals.
The ego (which is the personal identity, "I") forms to reconcile the contradictions between individual desires (the id) and the demands of the outside world, and one part of the ego forms the ideal ego, or the super-ego, which represents only the social element, and is the source of feelings like shame or guilt. In other words, Freud's conception of the psyche is one where the individual BEGINS with their biology, but enters into social relations which THEN leads to the development of social consciousness, as opposed to an animal which only hunts/has sex/sleeps according to its immediate feeling.

Hunter Williams
Hunter Williams

Everything you experience is a subjective experience.

Henry King
Henry King

excellent post

Blake Adams
Blake Adams

This is either meant as a truism or a statement bordering on solipsism. My subjective constitution is impossible without my objective biological one, and to the latter the former lacks full, undistorted access, the fact which opens up the ontological space that it occupies.