Forgetting Wilhelm Reich (24 March 1897 - 3 November 1957)
Wilhelm Reich died 57 years ago today. He was a Freudo-Marxian psychoanalyst, sexual pervert, conspiracy theorist, ufologist, and quack. To his 1933 book, Mass Psychology of Fascism, we owe the fatuous idea that fascism is a symptom of sexual repression. This idea is still taken seriously today, notably by post-modern intellectuals. He died in prison after being convicted for contempt of court in a fraud case. Reich was born in Dobzau, now in the Ukraine, but then in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, a part of Austro-Hungarian Empire. Soon after birth, the family relocated to Bukovina. His parents, Leon and Cäcilia, well-to-do farmers, were vehemently apostate Jews: they raised him and his brother as non-Jews, taught them only German, punished their use of Yiddish expressions, and forbade them from playing with local Yiddish-speaking children—all in vain, however, for as an adult Reich operated in an overwhelmingly Jewish milieu. His childhood may explain his—shall we say, 'colourful'—career: his younger sister died an agonising death while still an infant, and Reich, according to his second daughter, was abused by a paedophile, which triggered an early and unhealthy obsession with sex. He recorded . . .