A1 Journal article (refereed)
The Phantasmatic Core of Fascism : Psychoanalytic Theories of Antisemitism and Group Aggression Amongst the ‘Political Freudians’ (2022)

Zolkos, M. (2022). The Phantasmatic Core of Fascism : Psychoanalytic Theories of Antisemitism and Group Aggression Amongst the ‘Political Freudians’. Redescriptions, 25(1), 49-64. https://doi.org/10.33134/rds.367

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Zolkos, Magdalena

Journal or series: Redescriptions

ISSN: 2308-0906

eISSN: 2308-0914

Publication year: 2022

Volume: 25

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 49-64

Publisher: Helsinki University Press

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.33134/rds.367

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access:

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/82564


The period predating and overlapping with World War II saw psychoanalytic authors respond to the authoritarian and fascist developments in Europe through scholarly and analytical writings. These authors, sometimes referenced as ‘political Freudians’, were interested in bringing psychoanalysis in a dialogue with progressive social and pedagogical movements of their times, focusing their critique on the persecutory, eliminatory and purificatory fantasies, which they saw as animating the fascistic movements in Europe. This article analyses selected texts by Otto Fenichel, Ernst Simmel and Rudolf Loewenstein and argues that these authors asked about the political and ethical stakes of the fascist constructions of its ideal subject; one that was armoured against the threats of dispossession perpetuated by racialized minorities. In different ways, these thinkers showed that projection, paranoia, scapegoating and ego-regression became operative as group phenomena at that historical moment. By engaging with these texts, it becomes possible to not only understand better the history of how the critical psychoanalytic theorising developed at the backdrop of war-time European history, but also to consider the contribution that concepts of desire, irrationality, fantasy and affect make to the studies of fascism, historically, and perhaps today.

Keywords: anti-Semitism; fascism; wartime; psychoanalytic theories; psychoanalytic literary criticism; psychoanalysis; becoming aware; unconscious mind; political thought; violence (activity); literature; literary research

Free keywords: psychoanalytic theory of fascism; German fascism; antisemitism; the social unconscious; Fenichel, Otto; Simmel, Ernst; Loewenstein, Rudolf ; Freud, Sigmund

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 15:51