The entry below, which I first wrote in my philosophical journal on the date indicated, is the third in the series I am in process of posting on Male Fantasies, a two-volume examination by German scholar Klaus Theweleit of “soldier male” literature emerging from the German defeat at the end of World War I. Theweleit’s work casts light on the processes whereby trauma can be exploited by social forces to encourage continuing societal avoidance of that very trauma–exploited by those who stand, one way or another, to benefit from such avoidance.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Theweleit, Male Fantasies, vol. 1, p.89, gives a neat summary statement of his goal, which is to address this question: “To what degree . . . did a specifically masculine organization of life–in short, ‘patriarchy’ . . . –use fascism to ensure its own survival?” By that focus, he does not mean that other approaches, such as the one he explicitly mentions, of looking at patriarchy’s “survival under fascism [as] organized by capital” [are not also viable]. “It seems to me,” he ends this paragraph, “that . . . the only necessary point of criticism in formulations of the primacy of economic determinants [or, by implication, I’d add, other factors] in isolation is their claim to totality.”
Interestingly, on another point, he writes on p. 90, citing Freud’s Notes on a Case of Obsessional Neurosis (Standard Ed., vol. X, p. 202): “Freud once commented that doctors have a tendency ‘to dismiss patients’ assertions as gross exaggerations.’ He went on to say, ‘In my opinion the patients are once again nearer to a correct view than the doctors; for the patients have some glimmering notion of the truth while the doctors are in danger of overlooking an essential point.’ “