Sexual Liberation and
|‘The first draft of a great work’|
E. Michael Jones
Since sexual “liberation” has social chaos as one of its inevitable sequelae, sexual liberation begets almost from the moment of its inception the need for social control. That dynamic is the subject of this book. (p. 2)
Man at the beck of passion is in many ways like a particle with no will of its own, since reason, especially morals, is the sole source of man’s ability to govern himself. Once gratification of passion becomes the definition of “liberty,” then “liberty” becomes synonymous with bondage because he who controls the passion controls the man. Liberty, as defined by Sade, becomes a prelude to the most insidious form of control known to man precisely because it is based on the stealthy manipulation of his passions. (p. 59)
Those techniques became more and more refined, eventuating in a world where people were controlled, not by military force, but by the skillful management of their passions... The best way to make men unaware of their lack of political freedom is to indulge their sexual passions. (p. 57)
With the messianic glow of a man who had discovered the one truth which is the secret of the universe, Reich started to travel around Vienna from one workers’ meeting to another giving lectures not on class conflict but on orgasm. Good orgasm was the basis of psychic and physical well being; the role of government, therefore, should be to insure good orgasm by providing the litany of improvements the neo-Reichians have made a familiar part of our world and government policy by now: sex education, contraception and abortion.
By talking dirty, Reich found that he could hold the attention of even the most distracted crowd. It was a lesson the Americans would learn at around the same time from Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays, when that worthy took what he learned by cranking out propaganda during World War I and applied it to the nascent science of advertising. During the spring and summer of 1928 and 1929, Reich took his sex act on the road. The sex-pol team would arrive in a van at some prearranged site, usually at a public park, where they would talk to local workers’ groups not about class conflict or the more theoretical aspects of psychoanalysis but rather “the concrete problems of people’s sex lives.” Reich would talk with the adolescents and men, and Lia Lasky, Reich’s lover at the time, would talk to the children, and a gynecologist would talk to the women and either prescribe contraceptive devices or fit the women with them on the spot. Reich had taken his own sexual compulsions and had turned them into a powerful new way to organize the masses. Reich had discovered that one way of mobilizing people was by mobilizing the passions. (p. 253)
On March 31, 1929, a woman by the name of Bertha Hunt stepped into the throng of pedestrians in their Sunday-best clothing marching down Fifth Avenue. That was known in New York as the Easter Parade and created a sensation by lighting up a Lucky Strike cigarette. Her action would not have created the reaction it did had not the press already been alerted to what was going to happen in advance. Hunt then told the reporter from the New York Evening World that she “first got the idea for this campaign when a man with her in the street asked her to extinguish her cigarette as it embarrassed him. ‘I talked it over with my friends, and we decided it was high time something was done about the situation.’”
The press, of course, had been warned in advance that Bertha and her friends were going to light. They had received a press release informing them that she and her friends would be lighting “torches of freedom” “in the interests of equality of the sexes and to fight another sex taboo.” Bertha also mentioned that she and her friends would be marching past “the Baptist church where John D. Rockefeller attends” on the off-chance that he might want to applaud their efforts. At the end of the day, Bertha and her friends told the press that she hoped they had “started something and that these torches of freedom, with no particular brand favored, will smash the discriminatory taboo on cigarettes for women and that our sex will go on breaking down all discriminations."
What Miss Hunt did not tell the reporter is that she was the secretary of a man by the name of Eddie Bernays, nor did she tell him that Mr. Bernays was a self-styled expert in the new discipline of public relations, who had just received a handsome retainer from the American Tobacco Company to promote cigarette consumption among women. What billed itself as a feminist promotion of the emancipation of women was in reality a public-relations ploy to open a new market for tobacco by getting women addicted to cigarettes. Once again what purported to be a form of sexual liberation was in reality a form of control.
Years later Eddie would wax philosophical about the “torches of freedom” campaign. “Age-old customs, I learned, could be broken down by a dramatic appeal, disseminated by the network of media,” he wrote in his memoirs. Eddie failed to note that he had given the essential definition of public relations and advertising as practiced during the 1920s. Like the behaviorists, Eddie might have felt that human beings were infinitely malleable when subjected to orchestrated public opinion, but his insight needs its proper historical context to be understood correctly. What he was really talking about was the erosion of custom by the manipulation of passion. Throughout the century, tradition and morals would prove vulnerable to publicity campaigns which gave “scientific” justification for succumbing to passion. Feminism was no exception to this rule. It entailed the systematic re-engineering of the morals of women as a way of moving them out of the home and into the workforce, thereby lowering wages and weakening the power of organized labor and the working-class family. (pp. 254-255)
A revolutionary state must foster immorality among its citizens if it wants to foster the perpetual unrest necessary to foment revolution. Morals meant the advent of tranquillity, and tranquillity meant the end of revolutionary fervor. Therefore, the state must promote immorality. Given man’s natural and inordinate inclination to pleasure, the immorality most congenial to manipulation is sexual immorality. Hence the revolutionary state must promote sexual license if it is to remain truly revolutionary and retain its hold on power. (p. 57)
E. Michael Jones, Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control, St. Augustine’s Press (South Bend, Indiana), 2005. Some minor edits made, references omitted.