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(1936). Applied: W. R. D. Fairbairn. 'The Sociological Significance of Communism Considered in the Light of Psycho-Analysis.' The British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1935, Vol. XV, Part 3, pp. 218–229.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 17:232-233.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Applied: W. R. D. Fairbairn. 'The Sociological Significance of Communism Considered in the Light of Psycho-Analysis.' The British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1935, Vol. XV, Part 3, pp. 218–229.

(1936). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 17:232-233

Applied: W. R. D. Fairbairn. 'The Sociological Significance of Communism Considered in the Light of Psycho-Analysis.' The British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1935, Vol. XV, Part 3, pp. 218–229.

Communism is not so much an economic system as a product of sociological evolution determined by non-economic motives. Its significance can only be understood in relation to the historical evolution of social groups. In the light of Freud's dualistic theory of instinct, sociological evolution must be regarded as governed by two fundamental principles: (1) The cohesion of a social group depends upon its capacity to bind the individual libido; (2) the disintegrating factor in group life is individual aggression. The original group is the Family —the cohesion of which is constantly threatened by the aggressive rivalries involved in the Oedipus situation. Against this source of disintegration the patriarchal family adopts as its first line of defence the taboos on incest and patricide, and as its second line of defence the practice of exogamy. The ultimate effect of exogamy is to bind together a number of families into a new group—the Clan, which is itself organized on the family model under a chief, and which adopts the principle of inter-clan exogamy as a precaution against technical incest (marriage within the clan). The cohesion of the clan is endangered

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(a) by family loyalties, (b) by the claims of groups with which exogamy is practised. The clan defends itself against the former danger by a reinforcement of the taboo on actual incest, and against the latter by the religious sanctions of totemism. Inter-clan exogamy ultimately leads to the union of several clans in a fresh group—the Tribe. The historical stability of this group is attributable to its success in binding the individual libido by a continuance of inter-clan exogamy within tribal limits. Ultimately, however, the tribe gives place to the Nation owing to a weakening of clan influence and an enhancement of territorial as against consanguineous ties. The significance of Communism lies in the fact that it is a supra-national movement. Its aim is the establishment of a world state claiming the unreserved allegiance of the individual libido. This aim involves the abolition not only of the nation, but also of the family, which has hitherto resisted extinction throughout sociological evolution and has insinuated itself into the national structure. Under the national system the individual is subject to a hidden (repressed) conflict between the claims of the state and the family group, within which he is also subject to the Oedipus conflict. These two conflicts appear to combine to provide the basis of psycho-pathological phenomena. The main appeal of Communism to the individual is that its antagonism to the family represents an attempt to abolish the family situation underlying both these conflicts. The biological foundations of the family seem, however, to render the achievement of this aim improbable—witness the progressive concessions accorded to the family in Russia. The fact that Communism in Russia is conforming to national limitations further suggests that sociological evolution will favour a supra-national group organized as a family of nations (cf. the League of Nations) rather than the Communistic world state.

Author's Abstract.

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Article Citation

(1936). Applied. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 17:232-233

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