What is the Source of the Power of Discourse?

Laski poses the question: "WHERE would anybody get a wish or fantasy
FROM if he did not get it from the 'cultural reality' he first found himself
in?" He raises the issue of how a fantasy comes to be "relocated in the outside

Rather than define the term fantasy, let me show how fantasies
operate-how they come to be projected or relocated in the external world, and to
dictate the shape of an ideology or cultural form.

Hitler's place of birth was in Austria, near the border of Germany. His
earliest political aspiration was to re-unite these two separate (d) nations
in order to create a "greater German Reich." Hitler's deepest desire was that
Austria would become ONE with Germany.

Hitler stated in Mein Kampf that it seemed providential that he should
have been born in a town that lay "on the boundary between two German states
which we of the younger generation have made it our life work to reunite by
every means at our disposal." Hitler insisted that Austria must return "to the
great German mother country," not because of any economic considerations, rather
because "one blood demands one Reich."

A separation of history into Germany and Austria, Hitler said, "does
not seem conceivable" because the twofold destinies are "eternally one." Hitler
spoke of the elemental cry of the German-Austrian people for "union with the
German mother" that represented a longing to "return to the never-forgotten
ancestral home."

Margaret Mahler defined symbiosis as "that state of undifferentiation,
of fusion with mother, in which the 'I' is not yet differentiated from the 'not
I'." The essential feature of symbiosis is "hallucinatory or delusional,
somatopsychic omnipotent fusion" with the representation of the mother and, in
particular, the "delusion of a common boundary of the two actually and physically
separate individuals."

Symbiosis revolves around the fantasy or belief that two discrete
organisms constitute "an omnipotent system--a dual unity with one common boundary."
The fantasy of symbiosis functions in the name of denial. What one refuses to
acknowledge is that one's own body is separate from the body of the (m) other.

Hitler's career evolved out of the fact that he projected his symbiotic
fantasy into political units. The two bodies politic with which he
identified, Austria and Germany, came to symbolize his own body in relationship to the
body of the omnipotent (m) other. His political aspirations and ideology were
generated by his desire to fuse these two bodies politic into one ("make all or
life, one life, day after day, one life-even death won't part us now").

The German Reich would constitute an omnipotent body politic containing
both Austria and Germany united within a single space or territory.
Nationalism is a recreation of symbiotic fantasy on the level of culture. Hitler aspired
to transform Austria and Germany into an "omnipotent system-a dual unity with
one common boundary." To "identify" with one's nation is to seek to recreate
the fantasy of being fused with an omnipotent body. Cultural forms exist as
transformations of infantile fantasies, functioning to express, articulate and
to contain these fantasies.

Hitler wrote of the "elemental cry of the German-Austrian people for
union with the German mother country." The heart and memory of German Austrians,
Hitler said, "never ceased to feel for the common mother country." Those who
knew what it meant to be German felt and understood the "deep longing which
burns at all times in the hearts of children separated from their

The images and metaphors used by Hitler in relationship to central
elements of his ideology reveal the nature and shape of the unconscious fantasy
that is the source of the ideology's appeal. Hitler created and embraced his
ideology as the vehicle for articulating his fantasy. The fantasy constitutes the
motive for attaching to the symbolic form. Culture does not create infantile
fantasies. Rather, culture provides a form or framework, a container into
which unconscious fantasies are projected.

Hitler's political ideology was fueled by a regressive wish for reunion
with the omnipotent mother. Ideology functions to transform a regressive
desire into a progressive force. The object in the "external" world symbolizes the
internal object. Hitler was able to release himself from the body of his
actual mother by attaching himself to a symbolic mother, Germany, thus creating a
new (cultural) version of the symbiotic fantasy. A regressive fantasy was
projected into an ideology, fueling political action.

Words or symbolic constructions like "Austria" and "Germany" had meaning
for Hitler to the extent that he projected his unconscious fantasies into
them. Language does not create or define the unconscious. Rather, language is a
tool or vehicle that allows us to express or externalize the unconscious.
Discourse exists and is perpetuated insofar as it is fueled, sustained by (shared)
unconscious fantasies. We project our infantile fantasies outward into
culture. It is possible to perceive the structure of the unconscious by analyzing the
symbolic forms that contain and articulate infantile fantasies and complexes.

Political ideologies mean nothing in and of themselves. They become
meaningful to the extent that they can serve as "transference vehicles." Hitler's
political agenda or mandate derived from a psychic source. Hitler dedicated
himself to the project of re-uniting Austria and Germany because this ideology
symbolized his desire to (re) unite his own body with the body of his mother.

Norman O. Brown suggested that the unconscious can become conscious only
through "projection into the external world." Human culture, he said, is a
"set of projections of the repressed unconscious." Like the transference, human
culture exists in order to "project the infantile complexes into concrete
reality, where they can be seen and mastered."

We thus may study the unconscious by observing the manner in which
fantasies are projected outward. "Reality" constitutes a vast transference screen.
The "external world" is not separate from the psyche. We say that reality is
socially constructed, but constructed on the basis of what? It is upon the
screen of culture and history that we human beings project our fundamental
fantasies and conflicts, our deepest existential dilemmas. It is through the vehicle
of culture that we struggle to come to terms with who we are.

With regards,

Richard Koenigsberg

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

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