The Psychoanalysis of Racism, Revolution and Nationalism

9780915042258: The Psychoanalysis of Racism, Revolution and Nationalism

Koenigsberg examines the idea of the nation as a sacred object saturating our day-to-day reality. Through analysis of the writings of Hitler, Lenin, Sri Aurobindo and others, Koenigsberg articulates core fantasies underlying the ideology of nationalism. What racists and revolutionaries have in common is belief that a particular class of people constitutes a "disease" within the body politic--that must be "removed" if the nation is to survive.

In the final chapter, Koenigsberg examines the dynamics of totalitarianism--an extreme form of nationalism promising omnipotence through identification with a "great human community." Refusing to abandon the dream of omnipotence, radical nationalists, racists and revolutionaries are willing to sacrifice freedom and individuality

Table of Contents

I. The Country, the Mother and Infantile Narcissism
1. Introduction
2. The Country as Suffering Mother
3. The Country as Omnipotent Mother
4. The Country as a Projection of Infantile Narcissism

II. The Country as a Living Organism
1. Racism and Revolution as a Wish to Eliminate the "Disease" from Within the Body of the Nation
2. The Disease Within the Nation as a Projection of Malignant Internal Objects

III. Revolution as a Struggle against Passivity
1. The Struggle Against Passivity: Hitler
2. The Struggle Against Passivity: Lenin
3. The Struggle Against Passivity: Aurobindo

IV. The Social Psychology of Nationalism
1. The "National Community"
2. Totalitarianism
3. The Renunciation of Personal Gratification in the Name of a Devotion to the Collectivity

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A truly bold and provocative treatise: The nation is seen as the symbolic embodiment of a communal narcissistic ego, cleansed of the 'badness' introduced by a particular class of people within a nation's boundaries whose 'removal' by whatever means is easily rationalized if goodness is to be restored. The interpretations are intriguing and illuminating, the scholarship creative and careful. Koenigsberg provides an interesting and provocative account of the subtle and profound interplay of exceptional political commitments and psychopathology.

--Dan B. Thomas, Political Psychology

I wish to acknowledge the remarkable research of Koenigsberg, whose ideas on Nazism are supported by an astonishing number of convergent quotations.

--Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, International Review of Psychoanalysis

Koenigsberg identifies core phantasies that underlie modern man's 'absolute faith in the reality of the nation.' According to nationalists' phantasy, one s country is susceptible to disease, the source of which often is identified an alien class of people within the national body. The nationalist cure to restore the narcissistic ego consists of an 'exorcism' that removes this group from within the sickly, decaying national body. Koenigsberg's argument possesses a relentlessly propositionally Euclidean quality. In his interpretation of the dynamics of nationalists' crisis of belonging, Koenigsberg has identified numerous recurrent, timeless elements in diverse social movements. A remarkably sinewy work, lays a secure foundation for future work.

--Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism

Brilliant and fascinating: Koenigsberg's work is so good and insightful that it should be required reading in the education of everyone in the civilized world.

--Joe E. Wyatt, Society of Modern Psychoanalysis

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