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Violence, Culture And Censure by Professor Colin Sumner

By Professor Colin Sumner

Essays reflecting on our figuring out and ethical judgement of violence. The essays argue that even critical violence isn't really an easy truth, yet a class of inspiration and perform rooted in background, tradition and society.

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Anti-semitism is reified, an export article: it must ‘function’. (Adorno, 1950:370) The ‘Jewish question’ was to be solved entirely legally and the ingroup-outgroup relationship became the principle according to which the whole world was abstractly organized. Fromm (1941) argued that, like the authoritarian character and the automaton, the destructive type was rooted in the unbearableness of individual powerlessness and isolation, but this character attempted to escape his powerlessness by destroying the outside world, rationalized as duty, love, patriotism etc.

For Adorno et al. (1950) the child’s relationship to his parents is an ambivalent one, for at the same time as he is dependent on them and wishes to be taken care of by them, he also resents them and is hostile towards them. As a reaction against this hostility, the child often rigidly glorifies and idealizes his parents, and only this admiration is admitted and ego-accepted; the resentment and hostility is rendered ego-alien and externalized, thus rendering the ego narrow and constricted. Thus the authoritarian personality manifests a fundamental break between the unconscious and conscious layers of the personality—unwilling to become aware of the unacceptable tendencies and impulses in himself.

Reich argued that ‘“fascism” is the basic emotional attitude of the suppressed man of our authoritarian machine civilization and its mechanisticmystical conception of life. It is the mechanistic-mystical character of modern man that produces fascist parties, and not vice-versa’ (Reich, 1970:xiii, italics in original). Reich chastised sociologists for failing to recognize the importance of the irrational appeal of fascism and for perceiving it simply as an imperialistic interest or a ‘prejudice’.

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