Tuesday 3 January 2023

A rambling post about Freud, Christianity, Judaism and America

'The hatred for Judaism is at bottom hatred for Christianity, and it is not surprising that in the German National-Socialist revolution this close connection of the two monotheistic religions finds such clear expression in the hostile treatment of both.' Sigmund Freud, 'Moses and Monotheism'

Freud was also hostile to both, though in his old age, suffering from cancer, he began to see Judaism as having progressive qualities.

Many right-wing Germans agreed with Oswald Spengler who said "Christian theology is the grandmother of Bolshevism". 

Yet, according to Trotsky, Bolshevism was a war against Christianity.

Both Spengler and Trotsky were right, of course.

A number of writers have said that Freud wanted to destroy Christianity, by destroying Christian sexual morality, though I cannot find a quotation from him to that effect. 

In a letter to Freud, Jung reflected that "the ethical problem of sexual freedom really is enormous and worth the sweat of all noble souls. But 2,000 years of Christianity can only be replaced by something equivalent ... an irresistible mass movement...."

Certainly modern psychologists often see Freud and Jung as religious figures rather than as scientists.

Judaism is much closer to Protestantism, with its emphasis on the Old Testament, than to Catholic or Orthodox Christianity or the ancient Christian heresies of the east. This may be why antisemitism seemed to be less common in Protestant countries than in Catholic or Orthodox ones (or in Armenia), but I think antisemitism may be on the rise in the USA, which was until recently a majority Protestant country.

Since 1941 there has been an American ruling ideology of morally driven conflict at home and abroad. In both its left-wing and right-wing versions, it derives from Protestantism (to quite a large extent Calvinism) and from 18th century Britain's self-image of a Protestant, free country opposing Catholic despots (see Linda Colley's Britons), with a big dose of Judaism added.

On the other hand, the Jewish-American historian Jeremy Friedman, whom I met on a night train to Belgrade, told me he thought Judaism had more in common with Islam than with Christianity. This might be true.

Freud, by the way, didn't like America.

“America is a mistake, a gigantic mistake it is true, but none the less a mistake”, Sigmund Freud said to Ernest Jones. 

His one visit to the country was not a success. People addressed him as Sigmund, not Dr Freud, and the country was a matriarchy. 

American women “lead the men around by the nose, make fools of them, and the result is a matriarchy ... In Europe, things are different. Men take the lead. That is as it should be.”

For what Jung thought about America, see here. He was also surprised at how independent American women were. 

European women have changed since their day.

1 comment:

  1. F.A. Hayek was baffled by Freud - the latter's dislike of civilisation (not just his dislike of America). Conservatives who are pleased that Freud disliked America should remember that he disliked an America that was socially conservative (Freud did not lie to see the post late 1960s America). As for foreign policy - Edmund Burke gives the answer (as he so often does), a foreign despotism is not a terrible threat UNLESS it represents an "armed doctrine" that wishes to impose itself on the world - both National Socialism and Marxism were such "armed doctrines". Whereas, for example, Mr Putin is a very bad man (a dictator) but does not represent an "armed doctrine" with lots of supporters around the world, indeed Mr Putin has no real "doctrine" at all. The People's Republic of China is an interesting case - in that it retains Marxism as a political system, but has discarded Marxism as an economic system. The level of "double think" that leads to is incredible. In some ways, such as manufacturing, the People's Republic of China (not the United States) is already the strongest power in the world - yet it is based on a vast contradiction.