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The Political Implications of Psychoanalysis


“I am actually not at all a man of science, not an observer, nor an experimenter, nor a thinker. I am by temperament nothing but a conquistador – an adventurer, if you want it translated – with all the curiosity, daring, and tenacity characteristic of a man of this sort.” (Sigmund Freud, 1900). [1]

Questions on Psychoanalysis posed to the Internationalist Communist Left

The Internationalist Communist Left published very little on psychoanalysis, or, for that matter, on psychology in general. Yet, the impact of psychoanalysis on society has been enormous : it can even be characterised as one of the main ideologies of the Twentieth Century. It has directly affected the private lives of hundreds of millions of families in the period around the Second World War ; it has influenced business policies and the world of marketing and publicity – it even inspired art and literature. It added a whole new vocabulary to commonly used language.

Through the intermediary of “mass-psychology” it also largely contributed to a redefinition of how to manage recalcitrant populations and make them behave like enthusiast and responsible citizens subordinate to the national state. War propaganda became more efficient in recruiting cannon fodder by more persuasive techniques : manipulation of the “unconscious” and playing on “instincts”.

Ample use of it has been made by Fascists, Stalinists as well as Democrats. It was in the period in which the working class was most defeated and mobilised behind the imperialist flags that this ideology could live its moments of glory while it tended to break apart after the 1960’s.

For decades psychoanalysts not only had to compete with positivist, experimental, scientific psychologists ; [2] they also provided for a widely appreciated complement. Experimental psychologists, in their turn, rendered their own services to state policies, isolating the individual from its social context, pretending to represent the “science of human nature”. [3] It is arguable that psychoanalysis has been an obstacle to the development of modern psychology. But it is just as arguable that experimental psychologists, more in particular behaviourists, neuro-biologists and geneticists, will always need some form of psychoanalyses as a complement to make up for their own reductionism.

Biological and individual explanations add very little to our already very limited knowledge about the “human psyche” which is social by nature. Understanding a minimum, however, is all the more urgent as the present economic, social and political crisis, in first instance, risks to produce “collective psychoses” rather than class consciousness.

Today, in the much respected “international scientific community”, Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis have not vanished. In the Freud-Year 2006, celebrating the 150th birthday of this legendary “discoverer of the unconscious”, there was even a revival : an international orchestrated campaign, coming most of all from naturalist materialist neuro-biologists was waged in all kinds of periodicals ; general, scientific and most of all popular-scientific, with cover-stories like : “Neurological research confirms the theories of Freud”, and “The come-back of Freud”. [4] Those who disagreed were disapprovingly branded as “Freud Bashers” ; no attempts were made to reply to the critics. More serious scientists, whatever their school of thinking or background, tend to look at the theories of Sigmund Freud with the same wary disdain as at those of Rudolf Steiner. [5]

Psychoanalysis is most of all alive in countries like Argentine and France, in the form of Lacanism, and there it is also very present in bookshops with an impressive literature, which, however, doesn’t even exist in languages other than French and Spanish. [6] Lacanian psychoanalysis certainly constitutes a caricature of the undoubtedly very profound [7] and foremost speculative [8] thinking of Sigmund Freud. But as it was presented as a “return to Freud” when most psycho-therapists tended to move away from the theory itself – the sexual phantasms of the Old Master became too embarrassing, particularly women started to revolt against it – it can hardly be presented as a regression in relation to a “real” Freudian psychoanalysis. What did he say, the great Jacques Lacan, at the end of his life ?

“Our practice is a swindle, bluffing, making people blink, blinding them with boasting words, it is after all what we use to call much ado about nothing. [...] From an ethical point of view our profession is indefensible, and anyway that is why I am sick of it, because I have a higher conscience just like everybody.” “It is about knowing whether or not Freud was an historical event. I believe he missed his chance. Like me, shortly, no one will give a damn for psychoanalysis any more.” [9]

The Origins of Psychoanalysis

The specific form of Sigmund Freud’s “unconscious”, filled with hard to define “sexual instincts”, [10] was plagiarised from vitalists [11] like Arthur Schopenhauer, [12] Eduard Hartmann and Friedrich Nietzsche. It stood in contrast to Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel’s concept of “alienation” with its social roots as further developed by Karl Marx.

In the 19th Century masses of “alienated” had started to populate ever more new build poor houses, prisons and asylums for the “insane”. From just a few thousand in the beginning of the 19th Century, hundreds of thousands were locked away in institutions by the end of the century. They were deprived, “alienated” of their means of subsistence and thus also of their own being with which they lost just as much contact as with reality. They had lost their pride, dignity and honour. At the end of the 18th Century Philippe Pinel – who did have an eye for the social background of the problem – called it “mental alienation”. All this was seen by naturalist materialists and vitalists as the inevitable result of “instincts” getting out of control ; as an inevitable and irreversible physical and moral inheritable “degeneration” of “the lowest layers of society”. [13] In this context the idea of “unconscious drives” was born.

After the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris’ Commune, attention evermore moved away from social contradictions to the mysteries of the individual mind ; it gave rise to a whole “psychic” movement of “free-thinkers”. [14] Vienna became one of its main centres ; not only psychoanalysis, but also Theosophy was born there. Psychoanalysts were organised in the Psychoanalytical Association, far away from the scientific community, just like Theosophists were organised separately in their Theosophical Society. There, naturalist materialism could easily be combined with “spiritualism”. There, too, conflicts could be dealt with in a secret committee, watching over the loyalty of its members rather than trying to resolve them through public debate. [15]

The pretences of psychoanalysis

We also need to deal with the three great pretences of psychoanalysts :

1- Psychoanalysis would be a method to investigate the mind. Sigmund Freud’s scientific method consisted of “introspection” [16] and observation of his own children. He never applied the comparative method based on larger numbers or used any quantifiable and comparable data ; the very few “case studies” he published – in the form of attractive detective stories – have turned out to be complete mystifications.

2- Psychoanalysis would constitute a systematised body of knowledge about human behaviour. But “neuroses” [17] do not even exist any longer as such in the classification of modern psychiatry. “Repressed memories” are a marginal subject and to be very cautious about as there are hardly any means to verify whether or not a memory relates to a real past event while “repressed memories” are also easily created by “therapy”. The rest consists of obnoxious ideas about very young children having “sexual impulses” and oddities like the “Oedipus-complex”, “castration anxiety” “penis envy” and “oral” and “anal” “fixations”. Typically vitalist are fluid entities like “the libido” and “Eros”. In The Ego and the Id (1923) Sigmund Freud also postulated some constant “psychic energy”, [18] without ever defining it or telling how it could be measured, where it came from or where it went to.

3- Finally, psychoanalysis would be a method of treatment of “psychological or emotional illness”, whatever that is. [19] The therapeutic success of psychoanalysis is not only questionable, but measured by comparing the subjective feeling of “well being” before and after treatment it certainly isn’t any better than a pilgrimage to Lourdes or the intervention of whatever faith healer. Also, disagreement with a psychoanalyst is difficult, as disagreement might constitute a “confirmation” of the analysis and proof of “unconscious resistance” against its acceptance.

Sigmund Freud’s integrity

Then there are a few questions that even put into doubt the integrity of Sigmund Freud and his followers :

- Questioned, he mechanically extended his individual psychology to anthropology and the history of mankind as a whole. He postulated a “primal horde” and created the myth of a gang of gorilla-like sons killing their father because they wanted to have sex with their mother. The main source of inspiration was the French racist Gustave Le Bon and it was covered by a misreading of Charles Darwin. [20]

- Psychoanalysts like Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Carl Gustav Jung, Sándor Ferenczi, Otto Rank, Wilhelm Reich, Melanie Klein, Erich Fromm, Karen Horny, Bruno Bettelheim and Jacques Lacan all formulated theories which contradicted each other. What they had in common was their resistance to verification. [21] Most of them even pretended that their therapeutic results would not be open to verification [22] as they would work on subjective feelings of “well being”. They were “curing” through “listening” and “giving some advise” – something that is also done by Catholic priests, Protestant pastors, Islamic imams and Hindu gurus, and, in contrast to expensive psychoanalysts, in general for free. [23]

- The official history of psychoanalysis, as laid down by Sigmund Freud’s biographer Ernest Jones, has turned out to be a complete mystification, aimed at covering up that Sigmund Freud was a pathological liar, a quack and a swindler, a firm believer in the para-normal and everything metaphysical, ending up with “meta-psychological”, that is : pseudo-scientific theories.

- Finally, we have to question Sigmund Freud’s relation to Marxism and the workers’ movement and the true nature of his “humanism” : not only he exclusively worked for the rich and famous, never showing any interest in all those excluded from society, imprisoned in the “mental institutions” of his days, but it is also difficult to maintain that he took any serious stance in the highly political questions he faced.

In its most innocent form, psychoanalysis can be no less fun than astrology or the Da Vinci Code. But it tends far more to take a nasty turn. It is even dangerous, precisely because it pretends to be scientific and as it can seriously affect the “psychology” of its victims.

Those who might think that there might still be “some truth” in psychoanalytical theories might also try to take into consideration that Sigmund Freud wrote so much, that it is statistically highly improbable that it is all wrong. The general rule is : when it is right, it is not exclusive to Freudian psychoanalysis ; when it is proper to Freudian psychoanalysis, it is wrong.

Psychoanalysts cry out : “Don’t trust yourself, trust us”. As such it is an excellent means to manipulate those who believe in it and to abuse their confidence. Freudian psychoanalysts push their victims into narcissism, to turn themselves inward and to get imprisoned into their own private pasts ; systematically asking them to distrust their own motives ; [24] as immortalized in the Woody Allen movies. [25]

Psychoanalysis, the Workers’ Movement and the Bourgeois Left

The few real results of experimental, “positivist” psychology were not much of a problem to the materialist conception of history, [26] by contrast, their transformation into a new reductionist ideology posed serious problems. By contrast, psychoanalysis was completely opposed to it from the outset, and because of the silence on it, the workers’ movement could hardly have been expected to have remained exempt of its influence :

- The influence of the “psychic movement” at the turn of the century can already be felt in the later works of the co-founder of the theory of natural selection, the socialist Alfred Russel Wallace, and in the influence it had on the “Fabian” socialists George Bernard Shaw and Annie Besant, [27] with links to Mrs Blavatsky and Rudolf Steiner in Vienna. Psychoanalysis was part of this “psychic” movement and it was influential in the circles of the Austro-Marxists before the First World War : famous first “neurotic” patients of Sigmund Freud were sisters of well-known Austro-Marxists. [28]

- The Bolshevik Adolph Joffe, troubled by nervous complaints when exiled in Vienna in 1908, was “psychoanalysed” by Alfred Adler ; Leon Trotsky, arriving in Vienna shortly afterwards, was impressed by it and wanted to keep the question of the scientific basis of psychoanalysis open ; [29] Lenin however denounced psychoanalysis as a “faddish mode” and it hardly took roots in the Soviet-Union. Yet Joseph Stalin’s son Vasili attended the psychoanalytical White Nursery in Moscow ; the school was closed in 1925 and the Russian Psychoanalytical Society was officially repressed in 1930. [30]

- Psychoanalysis influenced several branches of anarchism.

- In Germany there was some early echo in the workers’ movement through the writings of Siegfried Bernfeld and Otto Fenichel, ending up in the short-lived Freudo-Stalinist adventure of Wilhelm Reich and his disciples in 1929-1930. [31]

- Otto Rühle and his wife Alice Rühle-Gerstel published in favour of Adlerian “individual psychology”, opposing the Freudian version. [32] Other “council communists”, like Paul Mattick and Anton Pannekoek, explicitly rejected Freudian psychoanalysis. [33] An exception is the later Henriette Roland Holst when she moved away from the workers’ movement towards moralising, spiritualism and psychology. Representatives of the Italian Left, like Amadeo Bordiga, never showed any signs of adhering to the principles of psychoanalysis, but they never seem to have bothered much about the subject neither.

- Within the French group Socialisme ou Barbarie Cornelius Castoriadis, when breaking with Marxism, adopted Lacanism in 1964 ; in 1969 he preferred to found his own school starting practising psychoanalysis himself from 1974 onwards.

There are little more echoes from the workers’ movement, but they need to be examined. [34] It is worth noting however that psychoanalysis was never applied to explain any historical facts ; nor even to explain the behaviour of individuals. Leon Trotsky for instance, although he was very “psychological” in his approach to individuals, all too easily judging characters, never tried to clarify behaviour in psychoanalytical terms. Apparently, he didn’t need it ; what he had to say came from his own empirical observations and life experience, not from any general theory.

By contrast, there is triple proof of the impact of psychoanalysis on the bourgeois left :

- Psychoanalytical thinking became popular through the so-called School of Frankfurt, with very different thinkers like Herbert Marcuse, Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, or even, if they can be classified in this “school”, Erich Fromm and Karen Horney, both old adepts of Wilhelm Reich.

- The Freudo-Stalinism of Wilhelm Reich was revived in the 1970’s, particularly in Germany and the USA, as his later works seemed to be critical in relation to the “sexual politics” in the Stalinist Soviet-Union and as it coincided with the “Sexual Revolution” in the 1960’s.

- A hippie-cult book by Norman O. Brown, titled Life against Death, [35] once seemed an attractive complement to Marxism in the form of a sterile and all-explaining dichotomy, the mythical forces of life and death, very close to the dichotomies Yin and Yang and Zen-Buddhism.

Of course, new emerging groups, inspired by the Internationalist Communist Left in this period, lacking historical experience, were much influenced by the general ambiance in society. While at the same time really innovating to some extend the positions of the previous generations, they also tended to embrace everything which seemed to be “new” and “revolutionary”. “Couch psychology” could even be promoted as a “scientific alternative” to the “kitchen psychology” so dear to bourgeois intriguers.1

18 September 2009, Vico.

[1Letter to Wilhelm Fliess, 1 February 1900.

[2It is generally ignored that the real foundation of modern psychology can be found in Charles Darwin’s The expression of the emotions in man and animals, 1872. Psychology as a separate science was further developed by the American William James (Principles of Psychology, 1890) and the German Wilhelm Wundt (Grundzüge der physiologischen Psychologie, Principles of Physiological Psychology, 1873-1874 and most of all Grundriß der Psychologie, Outlines of Psychology, 1896). Both founded a laboratory for psychological research in 1875, shortly after Charles Darwin’s publication. They immediately gave psychology a mechanist, reductionist and determinist turn which cannot be found in the works of Charles Darwin’s himself, and they also confused “evolution” with “progress”.

[3See for instance Frank A. Geldard, Fundamentals of Psychology, New York, John Wiley & Sons, 1962. On “The Essence of Human Nature” (we might also call it the “Human Soul”) little more is said than that it is “more complicated” than with other animals and also “less predictable”. That is not very helpful. We are assured that it is a question of “motivation, learning and perception”. That is not very helpful neither as it is also true for fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. One should not feel intimidated by the elaborate mathematical language in which the meagre theory is wrapped. It is most of all about statistical one-to-one relations which “suggest” a certain “correlation” without necessarily corresponding to a “causation”. Quite logical as there are always dozens of “variables” implied ; the human mind is far too complex to be caught in simple mathematical equations.

[4Including Scientific American, February 2006, and the German Der Spiegel, May 2006 ; well-known Freudian neuro-biologists are Oliver Sacks and António Damásio.

[5The fact that Sigmund Freud’s and Rudolf Steiner’s books were burned by the Nazi’s and condemned by the Vatican can hardly be used as an argument in favour of their theories.

[6Reputated in France became the Bénesteau-Affaire in 2002 – an outraged slander-campaign, substitute for argumentation, in l’Humanité and Le Monde – with unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism and a pathetic “Why so much hate against us ?” of the recycled Stalinist Élisabeth Roudinesco, the diva of French psychoanalysis. See Jacques Bénesteau, Mensonges freudiens. Histoire d’une désinformation séculaire, Mardaga, 2002. It is astonishing that this book provoked such a scandal as it was preceded (non exhaustive list) in French by : Pierre Debray-Ritzen, La scolastique freudienne, Paris, Fayard, 1973 ; Frank J. Sulloway, Freud biologiste de l’esprit, Paris, Fayard, 1979 (Freud, Biologist of the Mind : Beyond the Psychoanalytic Legend, 1979) ; Jacques Van Rillaer, Les illusions de la psychanalyse, Bruxelles, Mardaga, 1980 ; Sherry Turkle, La France freudienne, Paris, Fayard, 1981 ; Patrick J. Mahony, Freud l’écrivain, éd Belle Lettres, 1982 ; Hans Jürgen Eysenck, Déclin et chute de l’Empire Freudien, Paris, De Guibert, 1985 (Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire, 1985) ; Paul Roazen, La Saga freudienne, Paris, P.U.F., 1986 ; Renée Bouveresse, Les critiques de la psychanalyse, Que sais-je, n°2620, Paris, P.U.F., 1991 ; Pierre Debray-Ritzen, La psychanalyse, cette imposture, Paris, Albin Michel, 1991 ; Adolf Grünbaum, La psychanalyse à l’épreuve, Paris, L’Éclat, 1993 (Validation in the Clinical Theory of Psychoanalysis, A Study in the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis, 1993) ; Henri F. Ellenberger, Histoire de la découverte de l’inconscient, Paris, Fayard, 1994 (The Discovery of the Unconscious, New York, Basic Books, 1970) ; Adolf Grünbaum, Les fondements de la psychanalyse, une critique philosophique, Paris, P.U.F., 1996 (The Foundations of Psychoanalysis : A Philosophical Critique, 1984). Despite the scandal and the risk of legal repercusions in France it was followed (non exhaustive list) by : André Haynal et Paul Roazen, Dans les secrets de la psychanalyse et de son histoire, Paris, P.U.F., 2005 ; Catherine Meyer (dir.), Le Livre noir de la psychanalyse. Vivre, penser et aller mieux sans Freud, Les Arènes, coll. Documents, 2005 ; Jacques Van Rillaer, Le freudisme et les rationalismes, Lyon, 2006 ; Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, Sonu Shamdasani, Le dossier Freud : Enquête sur l’histoire de la psychanalyse, Empêcheurs de Penser en Rond, 2006 ; René Pommier, Sigmund est fou et Freud a tout faux. Remarques sur la théorie freudienne du rêve, éditions de Fallois, 2008. These are authors from very different schools of thinking ; several of them once were firm believers in psychoanalysis themselves. In English the list is much, much longer.

[7“My article on psychoanalysis was well received. It seems right to take a scientific stance and to wrap everything in words like ‘deep’, ‘depth’, ‘penetrating’ !” (Ernest Jones to Sigmund Freud, 14 February 1910, in Correspondance complète, Paris, P.U.F., 1998, p. 94, quoted in Le livre noir, p. 275, translated by us from French ; the official English translation can be found in The complete correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones, 1908-1939, Harvard, 1995, and the original German in Briefwechsel 1908-1939, 2 Bde., Frankfurt, Fischer, 1993).

[8Of course, there can be great speculative ideas that remain in the shadow of science for a while. Charles Darwin wisely wrote “I am a firm believer, that without speculation there is no good & original observation.” (Letter to Alfred Russel Wallace, 22 December 1857). But first of all, psychoanalysis was never presented as speculation or an “hypothesis” ; secondly – very much in contrast to Charles Darwin who worked for decades before publishing anything – Sigmund Freud never sought for scientific confirmation of any of his speculations – he simply claimed that his private “insights” were guarantee enough for the validity of his “therapy”.

[9Quoted in Le livre noir sur le psychanalyse, p. 114, translated from French by us. Jacques Lacan postulated that the “unconscious” could not be rationally understood, but needed to be addressed by the “unconscious” itself. That is to say : the “unconscious” of the “analyser” became the focus of attention and the “analysed” had to try to make sense of his gibberish and pay for it. “Psychoanalysis is a practice of speech and as such it approaches the different psychotherapies. But contrary to those it does not fall back on suggestion, nor on production of sense and it does not aim at silencing the symptom. It is a practice of speech aiming at silent pleasure, for-bidding, beyond sense, in which the symptom lives. It is the only discipline aiming at modifying the morsure of speech in the flesh, the only aiming at touching the joint of the signifyer with the living and its pleasure. This is a way of defining it.” (From an invitation to a series of conferences in 2009-2010 of the (Lacanian) Forum psychanalitique de Bruxelles). There are certainly other ways of defining it.

[10It is one of the many myths that Sigmund Freud broke a taboo by openly discussing sexuality ; all he did was throwing the platitudes and prejudices of his social environment on the streets, evidently at great discomfort of his surroundings.

[11Vitalism invokes a vital principle to explain the world, called “will”, “vital spark”, “psychic energy” or “élan vital”, it can also be called “soul” ; the universe would be guided by some not necessarily conscious “will”, seeking to “realise” itself ; sometimes it is restricted to living nature.

[12In Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) Sigmund Freud wrote : “We have unwittingly steered our course in the harbour of Schopenhauer’s philosophy.” That is rather where it came from in the first place.

[13For the causes of the effectively existing physical and moral degradation in the working class in the 19th Century, see to begin with Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1844.

[14Sigmund Freud remained all his life member of the Masonic lodge B’nai B’rith. In 2003 a lodge called Sigmund Freud of this branch of freemasonry was founded in Paris.

[15Early psychoanalysts like Alfred Adler, Carl Gustav Jung, Sándor Ferenczi and Otto Rank would soon find out at their own expense.

[16Ironically, all other early psychoanalysts obligatory passed on Sigmund Freud’s couch (particularly those who disagreed with him), but Sigmund Freud himself never was on anyone else’s couch.

[17The original distinction between “neuroses” and “psychoses” was between what was held to follow from the “nerves” and from the “psychic”. Sigmund Freud, by contrast, held “neuroses” to be psychological.

[18The idea of some constant “psychic energy” was plagiarised by Sigmund Freud from the German physiologist Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke ; it does not only exist in all kinds of vulgar materialist and vitalist ideologies, but even in the Prana of the Indian mystic book Upanishads, and from there it can be followed up to William Blake and Theosophy.

[19The history of psycho pathological classification, from Emil Kraepelin to the modern DSM, will be dealt with further on.

[20It was further developed by Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays and in the UK by Wilfred Trotter.

[21Definitions of concepts in psychoanalysis are so vague and flexible that efforts to empirically verify their validity are just as useless as trying to verify whether or not Jesus might effectively have had a baby with Mary Magdalene or that King Merovech would have descended from this baby. The “Freud War” does not take place in France, but in the USA ; the French intellectuals are thirty years behind American lawyers who demonstrated all its inconsistencies, contradictions and failings in the court-room.

[22Roy Grinker was present when Sigmund Freud received a document with results of experimental research which seemed to confirm the theory of repressed memory : “Freud threw the letter in fury to the ground saying : ‘psychoanalysis does not need experimental proof !’” Quoted from : Jacques Van Rillaer, Le freudisme et les rationalismes, 2006, source : R. Grinker, A philosophical appraisal of psychoanalysis, in : J. Masserman (ed.), Science and Psychoanalysis, New York, Grune & Stratton, 1958, Vol. I, p. 132, translated by us from French.

[23From an American film : “What is that, a friend ?” Answer : “Oh, that’s a kind a psychoanalyst for those who cannot afford one”. Of course, psychoanalysts might, based on some life experience, advise their clients with some wisdom, but these qualities are not required to become a psychoanalyst. That giving friendly advise could become commercialised is telling about the destruction of social relations within capitalism. By contrast, modern professional help directly after traumatic events has proved to be effective to some degree.

[24Interrogating one’s motives can be very useful however, as questions of simple honesty might be implied.

[25Woody Allen was “psychoanalysed” extensively for over thirty years. His films give a strong impression that somewhere in his career he started to manipulate psychoanalysts instead of being manipulated by them, for the sole reason to collect crazy material for his films. See most of all Zelik, 1983, a very “profound” parody of psychoanalysis in the form of a historical documentary on the Interbellum : the period between the two World Wars when psychoanalysis caused furore.

[26When Karl Marx formulated his “materialist conception of history” (in fact, he never used the terms “historical materialism” or “dialectical materialism”), i.e. the general conclusion he arrived at and which was to be exposed, he used “materialism” in the 18th Century sense of the philosophers who sought for “physical”, i.e. natural explanations while rejecting metaphysical i.e. “supernatural” ones ; it also referred to (materialist) experimental science as opposed to (idealist) pure speculative philosophy. The “vulgar materialists” of the 19th Century by contrast narrowed this to the opposition between an ontological, thus metaphysical “matter” and an even so ontological and thus metaphysical “spirit”, while the two in fact are pure abstractions, and perfectly interchangeable. Anton Pannekoek’s critic Lenin as Philosopher remains, in this respect, highly under-evaluated.

[27See Friedrich Engels, Dialectics of Nature, chapter Natural Science in the Spirit World.

[28Notably “Dora”, i.e. Ida Bauer, sister of Otto Bauer, and “Irma”, i.e. Emma Eckstein, sister not only of the Austro-Marxist Gustav Eckstein, but also of the Theosophist Friedrich Eckstein, who was befriended to Sigmund Freud. Both Otto Bauer and Gustav Eckstein can be found in Rosa Luxemburg’s Anti-Critic.

[29“Joffe suffered from a nervous complaint and was then being psychoanalysed by the well-known Viennese specialist, Alfred Adler, who began as a pupil of Freud but later opposed his master and founded his own school of individual psychology. Through Joffe I became acquainted with the problems of psychoanalysis, which fascinated me, although much in this field is still vague and unstable and opens the way for fanciful and arbitrary ideas.” (Leon Trotsky, My Life, Chapter 17, Preparing for a New Revolution). Psychoanalysis has played in important role in many Trotskyist groupings.

[30This White Nursery was led by Vera Schmidt and later Sabina Spielrein. For psychoanalysis in the Soviet-Union, see Martin A. Miller, Freud and the Bolsheviks, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998, and A. Etkind, Eros of the impossible : the history of psychoanalysis in Russia, Oxford, Westview Press, 1997. Proof that Stalinists went on exploiting psychoanalysis is Reuben Osborn (pseudonym of the psychiatrist Reuben Osbert), Freud And Marx, A Dialectical Study, London and New York, 1937. For a Stalinist appraisal of psychoanalysis see Georges Politzer, Critique des fondements de la psychologie, 1928 ; reprinted Paris, P.U.F., 2003.

[31Siegfried Bernfeld et al., Psychoanalyse und Marxismus : Dokumentation einer Kontroverse, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp Verlag, 1970 ; Russel Jacoby, The Repression of Psychoanalysis : Otto Fenichel and the Political Freudians, New York : Basic Books, 1983.

[32Dr. Alice Rühle-Gerstel, Freud und Adler, Dresden, 1924.

[33Anton Pannekoek, Marxism and Psychology, in : Living Marxism, Vol IV, No. 1, February 1938, p. 21-23 ; Anton Pannekoek also left unpublished notes on the subject in the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam. Paul Mattick, Marx and Freud, in Western Socialist, March-April 1956 (on Herbert Marcuse’s Eros and Civilisation).

[34Psychoanalysis is absent in the writings of for instance Karl Kautsky, August Bebel, Franz Mehring and Rosa Luxemburg.

[35Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death, The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History, Middletown, 1959. Norman O. Brown was a good friend of Herbert Marcuse ; they met in the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA. Herbert Marcuse criticised Norman Brown in Love Mystified : A Critique of Norman O. Brown, in Commentary, February 1967 ; Norman O. Brown reacted in A Reply to Herbert Marcuse, in Commentary, March 1967.