The problematic of Reimut Reiche’s Sexuality and Class Struggle
is still largely foreign to socialist thought in Britain. In Germany, however, the necessity for Marxists to supplement their revolutionary theory in the light of Freud’s discovery of the unconscious was already made clear by the rise of Hitlerism. Besides other mistakes, the kpd failed completely to understand the psychological reservoirs that the Nazi movement drew on, despite the warnings of such Marxist intellectuals as Ernst Bloch, who wrote in 1930 that ‘the vulgar Marxists are not keeping watch on what is happening to primitive and utopian trends. The Nazis are already occupying this territory, and it will be an important one’ (Inheritance of Our Time). In the ’thirties and ’forties the theorists of the Frankfurt School attempted to use both Marx and Freud to interpret the Nazi phenomenon, but works such as their Studies in Authority and the Family (Fromm, Horkheimer, Marcuse et al.), despite their undoubted value, completely lack a political and strategic dimension. In the advanced capitalist countries today, the necessity of integrating Freud into revolutionary theory
1. The maintenance of capitalist class rule relies not only on physical coercion and ideological mystification, but also on reproducing a personality structure that fits the given social reality.
2. Besides economic exploitation and political and ideological oppression, people under capitalist society also suffer (certainly not in the same measure, but differentially according to social class and group) from a specific oppression at the psychological level, from which the social revolution can and must provide liberation.
Within these assumptions, different analyses are offered, and different strategies based on them. In the extreme case, the anarcho-situationist groups all but deny the persistence of traditionally recognized forms of oppression, and put forward a model of contemporary capitalism as dependent solely on psychological oppression, a strategy that sees class society defeated by the ‘return of the repressed’, and an organization and tactics confined to the symbolically terrorist actions of small groups.
But Leninists also have recognized the importance of psychological oppression and the movements that challenge it, and sought new forms of practice and organization that will pit these forces against the state.
Reimut Reiche starts from the theoretical guidelines of Marx and Freud as filtered through the Frankfurt School, and from the practical experience of the West German sds in its anti-authoritarian phase. His book represents an attempt to draw strategic conclusions from the theoretical analysis of practical political struggle.
In summary the broad lines of his argument are as follows: