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The Psychoanalysis of Racism, Revolution and Nationalism

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Koenigsberg examines the idea of the nation as a sacred object saturating our day-to-day reality. Through analysis of the writings of Hitler, Lenin, Sri Aurobindo and others, Koenigsberg articulates core fantasies underlying the ideology of nationalism. What racists and revolutionaries have in common is belief that a particular class of people constitutes a “disease” within the body politic—that must be “removed” if the nation is to survive.

In the final chapter, Koenigsberg examines the dynamics of totalitarianism—an extreme form of nationalism promising omnipotence through identification with a “great human community.” Refusing to abandon the dream of omnipotence, radical nationalists, racists and revolutionaries are willing to sacrifice freedom and individuality.

Table of Contents

I. The Country, the Mother and Infantile Narcissism

  1. Introduction
  2. The Country as Suffering Mother
  3. The Country as Omnipotent Mother
  4. The Country as a Projection of Infantile Narcissism

II. The Country as a Living Organism

  1. Racism and Revolution as a Wish to Eliminate the “Disease” from Within the Body of the Nation
  2. The Disease Within the Nation as a Projection of Malignant Internal Objects

III. Revolution as a Struggle against Passivity

  1. The Struggle Against Passivity: Hitler
  2. The Struggle Against Passivity: Lenin
  3. The Struggle Against Passivity: Aurobindo

IV. The Social Psychology of Nationalism

  1. The “National Community”
  2. Totalitarianism
  3. The Renunciation of Personal Gratification in the Name of a Devotion to the Collectivity

“This is a truly bold and provocative treatise. The nation is seen as the symbolic embodiment of a communal ego, cleansed of the ‘badness’ introduced by a particular class of persons within a nation’s boundaries whose ‘removal’ by whatever means is easily rationalized if goodness is to be restored. The interpretations are intriguing and illuminating, the scholarship creative and careful. Koenigsberg provides a provocative account of the profound interplay of exceptional political commitments and psychopathology.” —Dan B. Thomas, Professor of Political Science in the journal Political Psychology

About the Author

Richard Koenigsberg is a psychologist and historian, considered a leading authority on Hitler and Nazism. His influential book, Hitler's Ideology, has been called "the best critical analysis of Hitler's thought." His keynote addresses on warfare and genocide include presentations at the Church Center of the United Nations, the United World College, the Colloquium on Violence and Religion, and at the Annual Holocaust Conference.

He is Director of the Library of Social Science, a firm devoted to the development and promotion of significant scholarship. His Ideologies of War website is a highly regarded online platform which publishes work by the most prominent authors in the field--and has attracted a world-wide audience.

His other books include Nations Have the Right to Kill and The Psychoanalysis of Racism, Revolution and Nationalism. He holds a PhD in Social Psychology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research.