The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Throughout history, the strong have attempted to prey on the weak, and have used all manners of disguises and systems to do so more effectively and especially to camouflage themselves when under suspicion. From Wilhelm Reich’s The Mass Psychology of Fascism:

We have demonstrated that fascism is not a problem of Hitler’s person or of National Socialist party politics. It is a problem of the masses. We have shown how it is possible that pauperized masses give themselves over with such enthusiasm to an arch-reactionary party. In order to arrive at the practical consequences which result from this for sex-political work we must turn our attention to the symbolism which the Fascists use in putting the revolutionary structures of the masses into reactionary fetters. They themselves are not conscious of their technique.

In the SA (the military organization of the party), National Socialism brought together largely workers with vague revolutionary but at the same time also reactionary feelings, mostly unemployed workers and adolescents. For this reason, the propaganda was full of contradictions, varying, as it did, from audience to audience. It was consistent and unequivocal only in the management of the mystical feelings of the masses.

Talks with National Socialist followers, particularly with members of the SA, showed clearly that the decisive factor in winning over these masses was the revolutionary phraseology of National Socialism. One heard National Socialists deny that Hitler was representing capitalism. One heard SA members warn Hitler not to betray the cause of the “revolution”. One heard other SA people state that Hitler was the German Lenin. Those who shifted to National Socialism from Social Democracy and the liberal parties of the middle were revolutionized masses who previously were unpolitical or politically undecided. Those who shifted from the Communist party were partly revolutionaries who did not comprehend the many contradictory slogans of the [84] Communist party, and partly people who were impressed by the external make-up of the Hitler party, its military character, its parading of strength, etc.

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