There’s little that disgusts me more than Freud – yet I can’t seem to get away from him. His work pervades my studies – of revolution, of religion, of ethics. Here’s his latest intrusion into an otherwise worthwhile study of 19th-C revolutionary theory:
“In his analysis of revolutionary motivations, Freud’s discussion of the primal horde implies that the impulse towards social change derives from unsatisfied libidinal needs – those aggressive and sexual psychic instincts that cannot be met by society if the social order is to continue.
“But Freud also suggested another source of revolutionary motivation. If the superego demands more than the individual is capable of giving, that is, if social demands for instinctual renunciation are excessive, revolt may also follow….
“Either libidinal impulses will propel the irrational actor into a common bond with a group all following a leader or the demands of civilization will be so excessive that the hapless ego cannot possibly meet them.”
Herbert Marcuse countered that sexual revolution was not necessarily liberating but rather accommodating. Working for sexual liberation as a social movement offers a substitute to real political liberation. Marcuse’ label of “repressive de-sublimation” for sexual revolution, unpacked, tells us that the freeing of sexual instincts and morals is socially regressive, inhibiting social and political progress and even creating further repression (real or relative).
Responses on revolutionary theory? On the role of sexuality in broader societal forces?
In other news, I’m going to Occupy Wall St later today.