Classic EssaysRevilo P. Oliver

Freud’s Ethics


by Revilo P. Oliver

ONE OF THE most important books of our time is the singularly courageous work of Richard LaPiere, The Freudian Ethic: An Analysis of the Subversion of American Character (Duell, Sloan & Pearce, New York; 301 pages, $5.00). The author, who is Professor of Sociology in Stanford University, has limited himself to a dispassionate and objective description of the disastrous effects on American society produced by the general acceptance of what he calls the “Freudian ethic” which has gradually and almost surreptitiously replaced the doctrine of individual responsibility and rationality that sociologists, following the lead of Max Weber, somewhat inaccurately call the “Protestant ethic.” (Historically this view of human nature, which made possible all the achievements of modern civilization, may be traced directly to the Italian Renaissance.)

Dr. LaPiere begins by showing succinctly but clearly that there is no scientific basis whatsoever for the Freudian psychology. Its method is the very reverse of scientific, for it depends not on truths demonstrable by experiment and self-evident to reason, but on revelation. The Freudians unabashedly declare that a man must accept and believe in the Freudian doctrine before he is capable of recognizing the motivations of human beings. You must believe in pixies before you can tell who is pixilated. Fire is caused by unseen spirits, because people who think otherwise are not competent to study chemistry. Such propositions can be maintained only by fanatics, and it is small wonder that, as Dr. LaPiere puts it, “the Freudians profess to an omniscience that is, to the scientific mind, simply frightening.” Although “a case of sorts can be made for the claim that Freudianism is a new version of Judaistic doctrine” it cannot properly be considered a religion, because “it is a doctrine of social irresponsibility and personal despair” whereas every religion necessarily imposes on its adherents ethical obligations and holds out to them a hope of becoming morally better. Freudianism is as much an inversion of religion as it is of science; it is an anarchical and purely destructive superstition. It is, in the strict sense of the word, witchcraft.

Dr. LaPiere, who carefully follows the ethically neutral methods of sociology, finds the social essence of Freudianism in its denial that man is a creature of reason and, above all, its denial that a man is responsible either toward himself or others. “The psychoanalyst . . . strives to relieve the patient of all responsibility for his difficulties, and to shift it to society.” Man is the helpless victim of society, which is the only evil in the world, because it frustrates him by repressing his natural and necessary desire to commit incest with his mother and to castrate all his male children.

Now Freudianism, in defiance of all logic and even of Freud’s own conclusions, is used to disseminate and justify the grotesque belief, rapidly becoming universal in this country, that man is an imbecile creature whom government must somehow protect from society and even from himself.

With emotionless lucidity Dr. LaPiere shows that under the influence of this delusion we are now committing national suicide. In our homes children are systematically corrupted by gullible mothers who treat them “as though man were in fact what Freud’s fancy made him out to be.” Our public schools perforce “strive to prevent any individual from rising above the intellectual mediocrity of the majority.” Our colleges are being taken over by ignorant and feckless bureaucrats, the instinctive enemies of learning and intellectual integrity. Our government madly attempts to relieve citizens of responsibility for themselves, and therefore “necessarily becomes itself irresponsible.”

We can already see all about us the ineluctable consequences of Freudianism, “the creation of a population of indolent, undisciplined, unprincipled, and incompetent people quarreling in random and fretful ways over the diminishing fruits of a dying social system.” This is a book which should be read by everyone interested in the future of the United States. The sorcerers’ guild will undoubtedly try to howl it down, and the innumerable parasites who find in “social welfare” a license to feed upon us will try to have it suppressed with either obloquy or silence. It is therefore incumbent on a reviewer to point out that Dr. LaPiere has written with an extreme restraint. At seven major points, either by stopping short his analysis or by failing to raise crucial questions, he magnanimously gives the Freudians the advantage of every possible doubt.

There is, for example, abundant evidence that, under the veneer of culture and urbanity imposed upon it by a great university, Freud’s mind was hopelessly diseased. You may find the evidence for yourself even in a eulogistic biography such as Helen Walker Puner’s Freud: His Life and His Mind (Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1947).

Someone should expound in detail the remarkable similarities between Freud’s doctrine and the tenets of the Hasidim, a strange sect which flourished in eastern Europe in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries — tenets which the learned and generally sympathetic historian of Kabbalism, Dr. C. D. Ginsburg, can explain only in terms of “the evil effects of nervous degeneration.” Was Freud directly or indirectly influenced by the doctrine of the Hasidim?

Anyone who dares to speculate concerning the motivations of Freudianism could profitably examine the appalling history of demonolatry and Satanism, which almost attained the proportions of a mass movement in western Europe at the close of the Middle Ages.

Other inquiries will suggest themselves, but there is one question of great and immediate urgency: To what extent has this weird witchcraft been used as a subtle and terrible weapon by the Communists in their unremitting warfare on Western civilization?

Dr. LaPiere’s book should remind us of the frenzied agitation about “mental health” which is principally financed from the three-billion dollar budget of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, although, of course, an effort is made to wheedle contributions out of every available sucker.

The main purpose of this hypocritical propaganda is to induce fatuous Americans to waive their few remaining legal safeguards, and to confer powers of arbitrary imprisonment on “experts” — most of whom, at least, are Freudians. One wonders how many Americans realize that under the proposed legislation their sanity will be determined by persons who passionately believe that every father really wants to castrate his son, and that every boy spends his childhood in abject terror lest the old man grab a butcher knife and go to work.

* * *

Source: American Opinion magazine, October 1959; transcribed by Anthony Collins

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