Ideology and Fantasy

I use the term "psychotic" to describe the monumentally destructive,
bizarre, and irrational forms of behavior that characterize Twentieth Century
politics in order to generate an experience of these forms of behavior as
ego-alien. Ordinarily, I do not use this term. My research revolves around
understanding the logic or meaning of these behaviors.

The purpose of Nazism for Hitler was to save the life of Germany. He
discerned the existence of a disease within the body politic, the "presence of a
bacillus" that had "penetrated into the lungs," become rooted there and would
only die out "with the destroyed lungs and the destroyed person." The question
for Germany was whether the people wanted "to die or live."

Either Germany would sink and the German people sink with her, or else
one would dare to enter on the "fight against death" by rising up against the
"fate that has been planned for us." Nazism would wage a battle in order to see
which was stronger: "the spirit of international Jewry or the will of

National Socialism was mass hysteria growing out of the experience of
the Jew as a disease within the body politic. Goebbels suggested that the Jew
had the same function as the "poison bacillus has in the human organism,"
generating a process that would "mobilize the resistance of the healthy powers."

A pamphlet put out by the office of Rosenberg compared the State to a
body "composed of cells invaded by parasites, such as bacteria." These parasites
were "incapable of building up a state themselves." Rather, the bacteria
"live in a body" and "can multiply." A body thus afflicted "must defeat the
bacteria which have penetrated it; otherwise it will be defeated by them."

With regard processes of this kind, humanitarian principles "cannot be
taken into consideration at all, as little as in the case of disinfecting a
body or a contaminated room." It was necessary to clear a path for a "completely
novel way of thinking" that could lead to the "final decision which must be
made in our time so as to safeguard the existence of the great creative race."

Genocide grew out of the fantasy of the nation as an organism or real
"body politic" containing Jewish bacteria. In order to save the life of the
German body, it was necessary to "disinfect it," that is, to destroy the parasites
and bacteria whose continued presence within could lead to the death of the

In February, 1942, as the killing process was unfolding, Hitler stated
that the discovery of the Jewish virus was "one of the greatest revolutions the
world has seen." The struggle in which the German people were engaged was
similar to the one "waged by Pasteur and Koch in the last century." How many
diseases, Hitler asked, must owe their origins to the Jewish virus? Only with
the elimination of the Jews would the German people regain their health.

The Final Solution was generated on the basis of an immunological
fantasy. Hitler believed that he had discovered the pathogen that was at the root of
Germany's suffering, the cause of her illness. His project, the purpose of
Nazism, was to destroy the Jewish bacteria and thereby to rescue the German
nation from death.

The fantasy that Jews were bacteria was the source of all that followed.
Hitler and Himmler and Goebbels did not invent or present these metaphors
for the purpose of achieving other objectives. Rather, all other goals--the
quest for power, waging war, and the Final Solution--derived from the struggle to
destroy or master the experience of disease, the psychosomatic symptom within
the body politic.

Historians pose the question of why Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in
the midst of the Battle of Britain. Why did he not simply complete the
conquest of Britain and then move on to the conquest of Russia? This question assumes
that waging war has a more or less rational purpose.

Hitler attacked Russia because he wished to be true to himself, that is,
to the sacred mission of National Socialism. He was certain that the
Jewish-Bolshevik bacteria had their breeding ground in the Soviet Union. They were
seeping into the West from Russia. If this process continued, Germany (and
Europe) would be destroyed. The British, on the other hand, were a lot like Aryans.

Hitler waged war against Russia as a response to paranoid anxieties
about Jewish-Bolshevik bacteria. Hitler imagined himself to be the "savior" of
Germany and Western civilization. He would exterminate the Jewish virus in order
to prevent the death of the body politic.

Jews of course were neither bacteria nor virus, but human beings, and
the German nation was an idea or social construction rather than an organism.
However, by studying images and metaphors bound to the central terms of an
ideology, it is possible to move toward uncovering the unconscious fantasies that
are the source of historical events.

Ideologies are as if manifest content of a dream. Culture and history
provide a "dream screen" into which latent content is externalized. One may
analyze shared fantasies by observing the manner in which they are contained
within cultural projections. To analyze the collective fantasies that are the
source of societal self-destruction is to begin the process of awakening from the
nightmare of history.

Richard A. Koenigsberg, Ph. D.
Library of Social Science

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