In a recent column, Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes wrote about the left’s obsession with undermining established social norms, particularly when it comes to ideas of sexuality. Anyone who’s been paying attention can see that there seems to be a strange push in the direction of viewing children as autonomous sexual beings. From the Clintons palling around with a convicted underage sex ring operator to National Geographic featuring a transgendered nine-year old on the cover of it’s January issue, everywhere that we look we seem to be bombarded with the message that children are capable of making decisions regarding sexuality and gender identity as early as age four.
So what gives? Where did these ideas come from, how did they become politicized, and what is the overarching agenda behind the promotion of these ideas?
‘The Sexual Revolution’ was a phrase coined by Austrian Freudian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, but its implications reached far beyond the realm of sexuality or politics. Merging Freud’s abandoned ideas of the therapeutic potential of the orgasm with Marxism, Reich began to see sexual repression as both the symptom and cause of working class alienation and oppression by the bourgeois propertied class.
According to Reich, the only solution was to raise proletarian consciousness via the unrestrained expression of the libido, especially among children. Reich believed that both mental as well as physical disease was primarily caused by what he termed “muscular armoring”-the learned posturing developed from years of sexual, political, and workplace oppression-which could be remedied by having the patient achieve a “full” orgasm, as well as a particularly painful type of manual therapy called ‘vegetotherapy.’
In 1933, Reich published what would become his most famous work, The Mass Psychology of Fascism, in which Reich drew the connections between sexual repression, family structure and authoritarianism. In this work, Reich describes how the Western patriarchal family structure’s emphasis on sexual abstinence among children and adolescents leads to pathological submissiveness and neurosis:
Sexual suppression is an essential instrument in the production of economic enslavement. Thus, sexual suppression in the infant and the adolescent is not, as psychoanalysis–in agreement with traditional and erroneous concepts of education–contends, the prerequisite of cultural development, sociality, diligence and cleanliness; it is the exact opposite.”
American novelist and anarchist theorist Paul Goodman mused that Reich’s work would restore humanity to an almost utopian biological state, which Reich believed was humanity’s default setting, in which a free, sexualized humanity would no longer “tolerate the mechanical and routine jobs they have been working at, but turn (at whatever general inconvenience) to work that is spontaneous and directly meaningful,” Goodman wrote.
After Wilhelm Reich’s expulsion from the International Psychoanalytic Association in conjunction with legal troubles in Norway and Austria, as well as Hitler’s rise to power, Reich fled to New York in 1939. Here, he began to articulate perhaps his most famous idea: Reich believed that he had not only discovered and directly observed an omnipresent bio-energy, which he termed ‘orgone,’ but could also harness the power of orgone to treat everything from mental disorders to physical pain and cancer. During this period, Reich began constructing devices-usually consisting of alternating organic and inorganic materials-which he believed could concentrate and direct orgone and be used therapeutically.
In America, Reich became a sort of counterculture icon, with figures such as J.D. Salinger, Saul Bellow, William Burroughs, and poet/NAMBLA member Allen Ginsberg all claiming to have varied success using Wilhelm Reich’s ‘orgone accumulators’ to treat various maladies.
In 1942, Wilhelm Reich purchased an estate in Dodge Pond, Maine, where he began living full-time in 1950. It was during this period that Reich was under increased scrutiny from the FDA for his marketing and sale of therapeutic orgone devices. In 1950, Reich would establish the Orgonomic Infant Research Center (OIRC) with other therapists.
The goal of the Orgonomic Infant Research Center was to prevent the development of ‘muscular armor’ in newborns. During OIRC meetings, children were ordered to stand nude in front of a group of 30 therapists as Reich described details of their ‘energetic blockages.’ Years later, many patients who participated in these experiments as children would report both physical and sexual abuse at the hands of OIRC therapists.
Although Reich himself was never directly accused of child abuse, his own daughter, Lore Reich Rubin, has stated that she believes that her father was a victim as well as a perpetrator of sexual abuse, and this may be why his work was focused on ideas of child sexual liberation.
In 1952, a complaint was filed to the New York Medical Society by a woman who claimed that one of Reich’s therapists at OIRC had taught her five-year old son how to masturbate. Charges were filed against the therapist, but were later dropped after Reich agreed to close the OIRC.
After years of declining mental health, claims of a global conspiracy against him involving extraterrestrials, and numerous FDA investigations and injunctions, Wilhelm Reich was sent to prison in 1957 for violating an injunction forbidding him from selling his orgone accumulation devises for therapeutic purposes. He died in his prison cell later in the year of heart failure, and his remains were buried in a plot on his farm in Maine.
While Reich’s legacy among serious academics remains that of a mentally ill quack spouting pseudo-scientific ideas about the socio-sexual origins of pathology, there are still some, usually in leftist and counterculture circles who still find value in Reich’s work.
Today, Reich’s legacy lives on in the individuals working to destabilize Western civilization via the destruction of the nuclear family, which is seen as patriarchal and oppressive. Indeed, these people wish to replace the stability of the family with dependence on the state, which becomes the sole arbiter of all morality, speech, action, and thought. Wilhelm Reich’s legacy has not restored some inherent ‘biological utopia’, but instead has placed us on the precipice of a totalitarian statist dystopia that will sacrifice the most vulnerable members of our society to satiate its need for total domination over all of humanity.