orwell's 1984 and the early theories of wilhelm reich

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peebo
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11 May 2008, 12:38 pm

it appears to me that one of the main premises of george orwell's 1984 is the idea of sexual repression rendering the population open to oppression by the party. the repression of freely expressed sexuality by the party is clearly an overt theme in the novel. junior anti-sex league, winston and julia's "subversive" affair, etc. this idea is very similar to the ideas put forward by wilhelm reich in his "the mass psychology of fascism".

http://www.whale.to/b/reich.pdf

reich's main point in this book is that oppressive fascist regimes are manifest only in situations where sexual repression is endemic in a society. he covers more than this, but this is the main thrust. i wonder whether orwell had been exposed to reich's ideas, or whether they just came to a similar conclusion independently?


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11 May 2008, 12:49 pm

Sexual repression was just one of many means the Party used to gain control. It certainly is not required in all fascist regimes. Have you ever read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley?


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11 May 2008, 12:49 pm

1984 is what is called "predictive programming". In other words, Hollywood likes to brag and tell us what is going to happen, because they know that the people won't take it seriously (and yes, hollywood is run by the CIA as well, in fact Hollywood gave America it's entire culture;-- culture creation). Here is the skinny on "predictive programming:

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea ... =369709908

It's all a big breeding/eugenics expirement, in fact the 1st half of the bible (old testament) is a pure eugenics program. It tells who breeds with who, capitalism and communism are both forms of eugenics programs. The "elite" only breed in other "elite" bloodlines. So it's not uncommon for them to have arranged marriages. The "elite" can be politicians, celebrities, etc.... Obama for example is related to bush and cheney, and also brad pitt. Hell John Trevolta and the rest of the scientology crew, I don't really trust those cats too much either. Like, civilization ended up creating the status ladder we call society, as a way of segregating who breeds with whom. Before "civilization" there was no status ladders, history channel admitted this in their documentary "history of civilization". So that goes wayyyyy back before ancient Sumeria...

Once again, here is the link on predictive programming, read it before writing anything slandering my post here, actually read it first, all of it, the whole thing, and then once you've read it all, then if you wanna criticize anything i've said then I am more willing to listen. Here is the link again:

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea ... =369709908



peebo
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11 May 2008, 1:03 pm

Orwell wrote:
Sexual repression was just one of many means the Party used to gain control. It certainly is not required in all fascist regimes. Have you ever read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley?


i have indeed read brave new world, several times in fact. it is an interesting book. although i feel that huxley's vision of the future was far less rooted in a possible reality than orwell's. of course, there are several other themes running through 1984, perhaps most obviously the manipulation of language and historical fact.

however having just finished a rereading of 1984, the first time i have read it since becoming interested in reich's early theories, there was something of an epiphany during the first half of the novel for me. the similarity between both men's ideas seemed too close to be coincidental, especially given the time at which orwell wrote it. i feel that while of course it is not the only device by which the party control the population, it is very much a central idea in the novel. watching the film version recently (one of the only instances where i have felt film has done justice to a classic novel) reinforced this, especially during the scene where the telescreen is talking about eradicating the orgasm. i don't recall this being in the novel although i could be mistaken of course.

it is also of interest to note that while of course reich was obviously ostracised by hitler's regime during this era, he also turned against the communist party, who he called "red fascists" and who had expelled him on the grounds of his progressive idewas on sexuality.

snake, i am not sure exactly what you mean, 1984 is a novel written by george orwell and first published in england in 1948. i am fairly sure we can assume that hollywood was not involved.


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11 May 2008, 1:13 pm

snake's got a lot of interesting conspiracy theories, I generally let them slide past unnoticed. I actually think Huxley may have been closer to Orwell, though both deal with separate aspects of a hypothetical totalitarian state. The proles in 1984 are controlled in somewhat the same manner as the people in Brave New World, but not in as sophisticated a fashion.

I'll concede that the issue of sexuality is pretty big in 1984 (not quite as big as in BNW) but I don't know if I would consider it central. There's the hints of post-modernism with debates over the nature of objective reality, and also, as you mentioned, linguistic determinism. 1984 also explores whether there is any such thing as fundamental human nature, and Orwell seems to come to the conclusion that there is, though it can be beaten into submission.

I haven't read Reich's theories, I might do so later when I have more time.


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11 May 2008, 2:11 pm

Orwell wrote:
snake's got a lot of interesting conspiracy theories, I generally let them slide past unnoticed. I actually think Huxley may have been closer to Orwell, though both deal with separate aspects of a hypothetical totalitarian state. The proles in 1984 are controlled in somewhat the same manner as the people in Brave New World, but not in as sophisticated a fashion.

I'll concede that the issue of sexuality is pretty big in 1984 (not quite as big as in BNW) but I don't know if I would consider it central. There's the hints of post-modernism with debates over the nature of objective reality, and also, as you mentioned, linguistic determinism. 1984 also explores whether there is any such thing as fundamental human nature, and Orwell seems to come to the conclusion that there is, though it can be beaten into submission.

I haven't read Reich's theories, I might do so later when I have more time.


IMO Orwell's totalitarian vision seems to be based on taking the Fascist and Stalinist totalitarianisms of his time and adding new technology into the mix to extrapolate into the future. Huxley's vision, on the other hand, seems to be a different kind of totalitarianism based on biotechnology and the radical behaviorist psychology of the time.

Oh, and the concept of linguistic determinism, formalized today as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, is something I've never accepted, I think it's based on false assumptions that result on the cause and effect getting mixed up. The S-W Hypothesis claims that language determines out reality, but IMO it is how a society sees reality that determines the structure of a languge. To use S&W's own example of the Hopi Indians, who according to S&W have a "process-based conception of reality," it is that process-based view of reality that creates the structure of their language, not the other way around like S&W claimed.


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11 May 2008, 2:18 pm

Huxley does seem to be more inspired by Skinner.

It would be a mistake to write off Orwell as criticizing Stalinism. He wrote an excellent essay, "Politics and the English Language," which you might find interesting. He talks more about his views on linguistic determinism, which aren't quite as extreme as S-W. He also specifically states that he's not just talking about "fascist" regimes. He was warning against trends he saw in his own country.


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11 May 2008, 3:18 pm

Orwell wrote:
Huxley does seem to be more inspired by Skinner.

It would be a mistake to write off Orwell as criticizing Stalinism. He wrote an excellent essay, "Politics and the English Language," which you might find interesting. He talks more about his views on linguistic determinism, which aren't quite as extreme as S-W. He also specifically states that he's not just talking about "fascist" regimes. He was warning against trends he saw in his own country.


That is an excellent essay and I couldn't agree with him more. The decadence of language seems to have only gotten worse, with even more euphemisms, vagueness, meaningless buzzwords, and weasel-words then Orwell dealt with in the late 40s. I mean, look at how politicians and corporate spokespeople talk now days, it's all vague buzzwords related BS without any substance. A couple weeks ago the BBC World Service business commentator Lucy Kelloway viciously attacked the use of meaningless, nice-sounding buzzwords by corporations.


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11 May 2008, 3:19 pm

Odin wrote:
That is an excellent essay and I couldn't agree with him more. The decadence of language seems to have only gotten worse, with even more euphemisms, vagueness, meaningless buzzwords, and weasel-words then Orwell dealt with in the late 40s. I mean, look at how politicians and corporate spokespeople talk now days, it's all vague buzzwords related BS without any substance. A couple weeks ago the BBC World Service business commentator Lucy Kelloway viciously attacked the use of meaningless, nice-sounding buzzwords by corporations.


HOPE!! ! CHANGE! !!

Sorry, I had to.


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11 May 2008, 6:45 pm

Odin wrote:
... but IMO it is how a society sees reality that determines the structure of a languge...


i would have to disagree with this, it appears fairly obvious to me that language determines the mindset of a society. strangely your next post seems to concur with this.


to orwell:

reich was an interesting character. in his early years he was the leading light in freud's inner circle and his theories to me appear to be spot son. however after being persecuted by the fascists, rejected by freud and ostracised by the communists, his ideas became increasingly extreme. although i still find his later work interesting while perhaps somewhat far fetched, his earlier work, in particular the books "character analysis" and "the mass psychology of fascism" to me seem to be on point. "listen, little man" is also a very interersting read.

http://www.listenlittleman.com/


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11 May 2008, 6:51 pm

peebo wrote:
in his early years he was the leading light in freud's inner circle

That makes him seem rather less credible, but I'll read some of him when I get the chance.


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11 May 2008, 6:58 pm

i would recommend the mass psychology of fascism. whether or not you agree with reich's views, it is an interesting read nonetheless.


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12 May 2008, 3:09 am

I think Snake321 made an interesting point with his reference to the bible, about how society has always controlled sexuality, and how sexual practices are enforced/imposed, either with laws as in religious societies, with both population and racial control as its purpose, aswell as maintaining male dominance/control of this process, or with shiny/glamour/star endorsement as in Hollywood's images of sexuality, which were once/are still very carefully designed and had/have a powerful effect on many people in the west, in a way not so unlike in Brave New World, modelling/advertising the socially-sanctioned kind of sexual behaviours.

Ironically Reich may have been particularly sensitive to fascist tendencies/expressions because his own perspective was one which Umberto Eco points out is closely related to fascism, believing that a perfect/glorious liberated human existence is possible if "just get it right"/find the key to unlock the door, if free oneself of restraints etc.

His chosen "pollution"/corruption just happened to be "sexual repression" which is in itself an illusion if referring to some essential hidden sexuality, as if sexuality wasn't itself a social construct.

I think one reason why the state in "1984" represses sexual activity may be because Orwell imagined that sexuality was a private/personal matter, and therefore that having sex in itself would weaken citizens' devotion to the state, whereas as both Michel Foucault and radical feminism pointed out sexuality is political, public, and having sex does not represent a threat to the state except when the sexual practice is different to that which is sanctioned, for instance in which male or white supremacy/control is menaced, etc.

On the other hand that may have been the only way he could find to represent the extent to which our society interferes with/controls sexuality/sexual activity.

I think both books are about trends already existing in the west, things already in well established existence; neither are about the future particularly.

Where all three ( Huxley, Reich, and Orwell), may have had an idea in common is in suggesting that a link might exist between bodily experience and control over people. That how bodies are allowed to express themselves, what the body experiences, ( bodily processes), has a significant effect on what and how we think. Double-Think can only exist/flourish if bodies are already being restrained/controlled/subdued ( by clocks, spaces, diet, furniture, selected sensory stimulation etc)?

In fact those are things that society can and does control, whereas I think that language is under noone's direct control, that it has a life of its own and just grows in certain ways in certain situations depending on the bodily experience of its hosts. :D

:study:



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12 May 2008, 9:48 pm

ouinon wrote:
I think Snake321 made an interesting point with his reference to the bible, about how society has always controlled sexuality, and how sexual practices are enforced/imposed, either with laws as in religious societies, with both population and racial control as its purpose, aswell as maintaining male dominance/control of this process, or with shiny/glamour/star endorsement as in Hollywood's images of sexuality, which were once/are still very carefully designed and had/have a powerful effect on many people in the west, in a way not so unlike in Brave New World, modelling/advertising the socially-sanctioned kind of sexual behaviours.

Ironically Reich may have been particularly sensitive to fascist tendencies/expressions because his own perspective was one which Umberto Eco points out is closely related to fascism, believing that a perfect/glorious liberated human existence is possible if "just get it right"/find the key to unlock the door, if free oneself of restraints etc.

His chosen "pollution"/corruption just happened to be "sexual repression" which is in itself an illusion if referring to some essential hidden sexuality, as if sexuality wasn't itself a social construct.

I think one reason why the state in "1984" represses sexual activity may be because Orwell imagined that sexuality was a private/personal matter, and therefore that having sex in itself would weaken citizens' devotion to the state, whereas as both Michel Foucault and radical feminism pointed out sexuality is political, public, and having sex does not represent a threat to the state except when the sexual practice is different to that which is sanctioned, for instance in which male or white supremacy/control is menaced, etc.

On the other hand that may have been the only way he could find to represent the extent to which our society interferes with/controls sexuality/sexual activity.

I think both books are about trends already existing in the west, things already in well established existence; neither are about the future particularly.

Where all three ( Huxley, Reich, and Orwell), may have had an idea in common is in suggesting that a link might exist between bodily experience and control over people. That how bodies are allowed to express themselves, what the body experiences, ( bodily processes), has a significant effect on what and how we think. Double-Think can only exist/flourish if bodies are already being restrained/controlled/subdued ( by clocks, spaces, diet, furniture, selected sensory stimulation etc)?

In fact those are things that society can and does control, whereas I think that language is under noone's direct control, that it has a life of its own and just grows in certain ways in certain situations depending on the bodily experience of its hosts. :D

:study:


An interesting thing to note here, look at how back in the 90's when people were just beginning to open up to homosexuals, how it was marketed.... It was "cool" and "trendy" moreso than the straight people actually understanding and identifying with the plight of gays. In fact you see a lot of that among white suburban hip-hopsters now, who "identify with the black man's plight", more out of a fashion trend than really caring about their plight. In other words, their concern isn't really sincere, it's just following the trend. Those same "I'm identifying with the black struggle" white hip-hoppers would march down the street in knee high boots goose stepping with the whole Hitler salute if it became the "cool" thing to do tomorrow.
And it's quite ironic, because those people will swear up and down that they are making judgements from their own free will perspective, but theyr not because their values, opinions, etc. are being marketed to them, spoon-fed to them. They become predictable, easier to monitor and control.....
And, it is much easier to control people if you let them ***think*** they are free. You can then feed them all sorts of mentally enslaving doctrines, and the people will become attached to them, and they will defend their own bondage. They will be greatful to their servitude.



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13 May 2008, 7:44 am

raoul vaneigem wrote:
People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have corpses in their mouth.


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17 May 2008, 4:49 am

Orwell wrote:
Sexual repression was just one of many means the Party used to gain control. It certainly is not required in all fascist regimes. Have you ever read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley?


The society of Brave New World was not fascist as such. Well, yes - it was a bit . . .
But not in the same way that Oceania was fascist.
As Mustafa Mond said, the change came from below. It was - at least alledgedly - the will of the masses. An attempt at happiness, however twisted.

And subversive elements were simply expelled, and mostly left to their own devices.

Among 1984, Brave New World and Farenheit 451, I would much prefer the world of Aldous Huxley to the other two.


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