Everybody Wants To Be a Fascist

Light of truth

“The action of the play (Oedipus the King) consists in nothing other than the process of revealing, with cunning delays and ever-mounting excitement — a process that can be likened to the work of psychoanalysis… His destiny moves us only because it might have been ours— because the oracle laid the same curse upon us before our birth as upon him” Freud wrote in “Interpretation of Dreams.” People after Freud believed that what happened to Oedipus happened because it was cruelly fated, and that in the end the play could mean little more than what Oedipus himself reckons about his destined lot: “It was Apollo, friends, Apollo, that brought this bitter bitterness, my sorrows to completion.” As such, Oedipus’ tragedy became paradigmatic not only of the fate of royal families, but of all families and their dramas, so vividly experienced in dreams with heightened emotional charge, but in art, as well, where one is allowed to give vent to all the paradoxes of the human experience. But tragedy reveals, as well, the ravages of actions based on desire for power and revenge and condemns over-confidence. Freud invents the Unconscious in the place of fate and every one follows the fate of childhood experiences connected with sex. The result is that human life becomes a story told by an idiot signifying nothing. Does Sophocles give such message of fatalism? Unfortunately that is the way Freud reads and makes a theory of psychology of fatalism especially in sex life with Oedipus complex. This has worked as tragedy especially in the West. It made way for freedom in satisfying sexual desire. It also becomes the reason for the tracking down of all varieties of fascism, from the enormous ones that surround and crush us to the petty ones that constitute the tyrannical bitterness of our everyday lives. It is utterly unfounded in the play; it does not prove that Oedipus killed Laius. Sophocles has brought doubt on theory of fate of Apollo. “Tell me,” the king Oedipus retorts to the blind prophet, “where have you seen clear … with your prophetic eyes?” To answer the Sphinx’s riddle was, Oedipus says, “a prophet’s task” (manteia, “prophesying power” or “skill”), and for that all-important work Teiresias had “no gift of prophecy from birds nor otherwise from any God,” Apollo included. And whereas the blind seer came up empty-handed in that important civic act, Oedipus did not. Oedipus remains faithful to the dictum of Apollo’s temple – “Know Thyself.”

I would say that Anti-Oedipus is a book of ethics, the first book of ethics to be written in France in quite a long time (perhaps that explains why its success was not limited to a particular “readership”: being anti-oedipal has become a life style, a way of thinking and living). How does one keep from being fascist? How do we get rid our speech and our acts, our hearts and our pleasures, of fascism? How do we ferret out the fascism that is ingrained in our behavior? The Christian moralists sought out the traces of the flesh lodged deep within the soul. Deleuze and Guattari, for their part, pursue the slightest traces of fascism in the body. Paying a modest tribute to Saint Francis de Sales, one might say that Anti-Oedipus is an introduction to the Non-Fascist Life. This art of living counter to all forms of fascism, whether already present or impending, carries with it a certain number of essential principles which I would summarize as follows. The Oedipus of Freud is not a mere psychoanalytic construct. Oedipus is the figurehead of imperialism, “colonization pursued by other means, it is the interior colony, and we shall see that even here at home… it is our intimate colonial education.” This internalization of man by man, this “oedipalization,” creates a new meaning for suffering, internal suffering, and a new tone for life: the depressive tone.Oedipus is belief injected into the unconscious, it is what gives us faith as it robs us of power, it is what teaches us to desire our own repression. Everybody has been oedipalized and neuroticized at home, at school, at work. Everybody wants to be a fascist.

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