Wagnerian Volkideologie, Narcissism, and Aesthetics A Study in the Totalitarian Imaginary

Arthur Schechter Leventhal/German Critical Thought II/Spring '11 GRMN 313 April 21st, 2011

What I mean to submit here is a structural theory of the aesthetic, exploring its function vis-à-vis the political, and desire's implication in ideology. We will use as our framework and jumping-off point Kant's model of the aesthetic, but with some crucial revisions. From here, we will bring psychoanalysis to bear on ideological frameworks and aesthetic judgment, and the interplay between the two. Drawing on Freud's ego psychology and his theory of narcissism, as well as Lacan's theory of the mirror stage and I-formation, we may understand the function and status of primary narcissism as immanent and necessary to the formation and maintenance of ideology as it is constituted by its Subjects on the group level, and investigate the political ramifications of what we may term secondary ideological narcissism, and the role of the aesthetic in it. Later on, we will take Wagner's anti-semitism, Volkideologie, and his The Jews in Music as a case study in such a dynamic, posing the question of the importance of art to, and its role in, totalitarian culture. Utilizing psychoanalysis as our initial primary hermeneutic, we will ultimately find ourselves asking difficult questions of Freud, whose diagnostics of narcissism on the group level will seem more and more ontic and dissatisfying, lacking the vocabulary to ask the question of the material conditions in which the group subsists, such as the division of labor, and whether they can be superseded or aufgehoben; after all, the analogue of the group, nation, or state to the individual (the “body” politic), with a “character,” with all the same neuroses, is, when left uninterrogated, a blow to all notions of heteronomy or individual agency. The fact, then, that we are compelled to draw the analogy is the influence, a distinct symptom, of authoritarian culture itself. Our investigation begins with a rereading of Kant's Critique of Judgment. This is not to say that it is without profound structural insight. Nonetheless, his presuppositions must be interrogated in order to make him applicable outside of his particular, totalizing Enlightenment

milieu, particularly notions of universality. Such notions shine through, manifest blatantly in his theory of the aesthetic; what he describes as the fundamental disinterested quality of beauty must be called into question. To the extent that the ideological is a set of propositions which are imaginary relations to material reality, inconsistencies are present, as in any set of propositions or determinations. The contradictions immanent to a given ideological framework reveal themselves with enough interrogation. Even the barest, least linguistic mediation between the Subject and the material world as he or she observes it, or what is often referred to, unqualified, as simply “the sense faculties,” is still a proposition. It is one, however, which is predicated upon desire, which contains pleasure and unpleasure, the beautiful and its opposite, and as a whole affirms the ideology of which it is part and parcel, sensuously, desirously, and unintellectually. Terry Eagleton submits the analogy to the Imaginary. The beautiful is the méconnaisance, then, of objects which affirm, allude to, point to the coherence of the ideological framework which contains the proposition which gives the object its beauty, just as the Lacanian subject misrecognizes him or herself in the mirror, supposing a coherent or ideal subject.
The Kantian subject of aesthetic judgement, who misperceives as a quality of the object what is in fact a pleasurable coordination of its own powers… resembles the infantile narcissist of the Lacanian mirror stage, whose misperceptions Louis Althusser has taught us to regard as an indispensable structure of all ideology. In the ‘imaginary’ of ideology, or of aesthetic taste, reality comes to seem totalized and purposive, reassuringly pliable to the centred subject[…]. Beauty is in this sense an aid to virtue, appearing as it does to rally support for our moral endeavours from the unlikely resource of Nature itself. (EIA pp. 87-89)

Eagleton’s critique of Kant’s bourgeois vantage point, and that of his entire critical philosophy, is sufficiently withering for a properly Marxist inquiry. He understands more generally, however, the purport of the aesthetic, and its role in the study of the ideological per se. “Given certain material conditions… it is necessary that certain subjective responses be invested with all the

force of universally binding propositions, and this is the sphere of the ideological,” he writes, modifying Kant’s universality into a usable form, which we will put to use (EIA p. 96). If the aesthetic functions as the Imaginary of an ideological framework, we are driven to carry this analogy further, drawing on Freud and Lacan, and must take into consideration the individual’s narcissism, and its analogue on the group or national (i.e. ideological) level, of which Freud was prescient in his seminal essay of 1914, On Narcissism. The mirror stage of Lacan, the inscription of the Imaginary Order, was, as Lacan acknowledged, foreshadowed in its by Freud’s concept of primary narcissism. Narcissism, as Freud outlined it, may be understood as always present in the individual given the Imaginary Order’s permanence, and indeed, structural necessity in I-formation per se, but in degrees varying from the innocuous to the pathological. Freud’s concept of Super-Ego, with varying possible degrees of censorious intensities, is yet another way of framing the structural function of narcissism. However, the moment of pathology is marked by a distinct regression. The ruthless striving toward the ideal-I in an individual suffering from pathological narcissism results in the Ego functioning not to relate to objects or ever to cathect, but only to subsume, sadistically force to conform to its vision of the world as an extension of itself, in a necessarily futile attempt to replicate the experienced omnipotence of primary, infantile narcissism. If we proceed, we will see the these tendencies tendencies at work, by analogue, on a higher order of magnitude, on the group or national level. What we observe here is the hypostatization of a certain (hierarchically organized) notion of the group, whose very conceptual identity is rendered palpable, and demands deference to the hierarchies implicated in it, that it may function so homogeneously as to draw comparisons to an individual subject. It is this Hegelian totality which we will later problematize, but which holds when considering the various incarnations of the nation-state in modernity which all refer back in

some way to, and indeed constitute this hermeneutic. It is here, then, where we reach a key moment of differentiation in our structural investigation. The Ideological Symbolic Order and the Aesthetical Imaginary Order, as we may rightly term them, function in tandem on the national level, and we may thus move past our prefatory outline of the mere identification of the two structures and their cooperation per se, and begin to realize the critical application of this structural framework as we consider the possible varying degrees of narcissism present in nations and cultures with their own discreet Imaginaries and Symbolics.

In Civilization and its Discontents, Freud himself surmised the possibility of a “cultural super-ego”; that is, the censorious component of the human psyche whose roots were in an originary sadism, and whose structural function was predicated upon narcissism, was acknowledged by Freud as present and functioning at the cultural and national level. Narcissism, while inscribed immanently into the function of the psyche inasmuch as it is instrumental to the preservation of the Ego, is present in a spectrum of intensities, and just as he drew the line of pathology in narcissism in an individual, Freud warned of the dangers of its manifestations on the group level. Whichever semantic iteration we choose, we see narcissism essentially operative in the creation, delineation, and delimitation of groups, particularly nations. The degree to which it is manifested, however, is another matter, and does not go without saying. An emotionally healthy individual may maintain object-relations which are ideally predicated upon exchange and interdependence with determinate, recognizable boundaries and limits, and the analogue may readily be drawn to a nation which is accepting of political, cultural, and ethnic multi-valence in its constituency, or a culture which is accepting, and quite literally, open to exchange with foreign elements and cultural productions. National identity is

still maintained by setting the nation as a self against an Other, but the way in which it relates to that Other is primarily congenial, and may be deemed comparatively healthy. Conversely, pathologically narcissistic object-relations are devoid of external cathexis, and are by no means an exchange; rather, desire is turned futilely and destructively inwards. The Ego will concede nothing, and must see a continuation of itself in objects which it subsumes if it relates to them at all. The same tendencies are exhibited by totalitarian culture, which is given to imperialist or expansionist tendencies, and is ruthlessly censorious of heterogeneity, relying often on the politico-legal realm to direct all speech, action, and cultural production to unilaterally reproduce the ideological propositions which constitute it. The “closed circuit” analogy drawn from the Ego which has cordoned itself off is perhaps even more apt considering the fascist state and its fixation on unceasing self-reproduction and self-representation and stringent delineations of its own representations in cultural, political homogeneity, never deigning to let in that which it has not produced or molded, and reaching out only to absorb and subjugate. Furthermore, in his 1948 paper Aggressiveness in Psychoanalysis, Jacques Lacan identifies aggressiveness as a hallmark of the narcissistic condition, constituting his fourth thesis: “Aggressiveness is the tendency correlated with the mode of identification I call narcissism, which determines the formal structure of man's ego and of the register of identities characteristic of his world.” (Écrits p. 89) Structurally, Lacan identifies an “aggressive relativity” inherent to the ego, by which it most basically and primitively sets itself over against objects. A narcissistic, paranoiac positionality as an adulthood regression, then, naturally correlates with an aggresivity which is infantile in nature. We may turn to Freud and his supposed observations of narcissism in tribal society, dubious as they may be, for a model of the infantile national culture. The factuality of such a

supposition is not at issue here, and is inherently problematic; rather, the primitive tribal existence which set itself over against all other cultures out of mere survivalist necessity is frequently posited by authoritarian nationalism to function as a sort of racial mythos. The very possibility of regression to such an infantile aggressive position is predicated upon such a model, with racial, national, or any such valences superadded a priori to lend intention to an otherwise aimless, self-devouring narrative. The vicissitudes of this model, and the role of the aesthetic in creating and sustaining it, will be considered below, with Wagner's meditations on race, and the Volk as the crucible of art, as a case study. In modernity, the analogue of adulthood in our provisional model, we see the authoritarian society exhibit the aggressiveness and paranoiac behaviors of the narcissist, fitting Lacan's profile. In particular, the obsessional position of panopticism characteristic of authoritarian culture may be read as an expression of persecution fears, and quite literally, the positing of real or imaginary “spying and intimidation”, in Lacan's own words, to be rooted out. Phallic anxiety over the discursivity and multi-valence of culture is overdetermined in the totalitarian struggle for homogeneity. If we are to follow this model faithfully and completely, we should realize that the cultural Imaginary, the very structural facilitation of cultural narcissism, is constituted and inscribed through the production and reproduction of the aesthetic. The role of art, a national art, in the sustenance of nationalism is instrumental. The production of beautiful objects is the primary mode of reification of an entire ideological framework. Moreover, it is the unique position of the aesthetic to both inscribe ideologically and desirously, given the possibility of explicit ideological content in works of art.

In the following, we will endeavor a trifold exploration of the function of the authoritarian aesthetic with our case study in the particularly nationalistic instance of Wagner's writings on music, art, and national culture. First, we will delve into Wagner's theory of race, Volk, and creativity per a national “character.” Here we will investigate the deployment of the aesthetic to, in this case, posit explicitly, but in other cases, presuppose implicitly, a “pure,” tribal, national infancy and infantile narcissism, and to effect a regression to such a state. Then, we will continue our reading of Wagner and observe what he considers the absence of national character, in the particular case of the Jews. Interestingly enough, his anti-Semitism is linguistically motivated, or at least justified, and we will extrapolate his criticism in Jews in Music per our observation above of the paranoiac, phallic character of totalitarian culture, here bent on eradicating “minor” aesthetics (as well as poetics, music, literature, etc.) establishing the homogeneity of the major language and its accompanying aesthetic. Lastly, we will consider the ability, or at least aim of the authoritarian aesthetic to reroute and redirect desire in subjects, and the consequences of the alienation of desire. Conversely, we will investigate the possibility of a liberated aesthetic, and the position of the aesthetic in fully realized Marxism as the unalienated production of desire of its own, chosen, rather than dictated, objects. Admittedly, such an investigation will not yield an excess of positive knowledge, but we will find that we may graft a properly structural aesthetic ideal to the already extant structuralist-Marxist ideal with striking coherence. However, positive movement will certainly be manifest as the merits of a materialist psychiatry imbued with the critical materialism of Marx become clear, furnishing a response to and general treatment of Freud (a “move beyond” would be a crass undertaking at worst and a confining description at best), adapting his vocabulary to the certain extents in which his perceptions were ontologically incisive, whereas his more ontic observation and suppositions

will be properly treated and interrogated as well. For instance, his treatment of group dynamics at the end of On Narcissism is patently unsatisfying, as he settles for facile speculation, presupposing the Ego Ideal's function in groups, satisfied with the hermeneutics of the Ego which psychoanalysis had established, not bothering to question what role material conditions, the division of labor, or some other such material etiology might have in shaping power relations such that narcissism is the status quo of group interaction, or even that a homogeneous, Ego-like organization is the state of affairs. However, just as the original hermeneuticians lacked the critical vocabulary (or even possibility thereof) which would have been given them if they had only been able to take the Bible as literature, post-Freud we may delve even beyond egopsychological latency which he found no reason to interrogate, and adapt him to speak on the material conditions extrinsic to the ego which synthesize in tandem with it.

However problematic western models of “primitive” peoples or “tribal” societies are, Freud's work on narcissism, and Wagner's justification for and basis for a definition of das Volk unavoidably relate back to the same. This contiguity, this shared understanding of what originary society meant and how it functioned, regardless of positive or negative valence, is of vital importance and must be given credence in a proper analytic of a nationalist aesthetic such as Wagner's. Freud understands narcissism as it characterizes primitive, tribal existence in On Narcissism as follows:
This extension of the libido theory—in my opinion, a legitimate one— receives reinforcement from a third quarter, namely, from our observations and views on the mental life of children and primitive peoples. In the latter we find characteristics which, if they occurred singly, might be put down to megalomania: an over-estimation of the power of their wishes and mental acts, the ‘omnipotence of thoughts’, a belief in the thaumaturgic force of words, and a technique for dealing with the external world—‘magic’— which appears to be a logical application of these grandiose premisses. (p. 74)

In this model, narcissism seems very much to be implicated in magic, ritual, the desire to be as one with nature and the world. This desire is not innocent in any sense however; this cultural mirror stage is one which is inherently aggressive. Psychosexually speaking, this naïve “omnipotence of thoughts” suggests relations with the world seeing all objects as “for me,” while at the same time being thoroughly unable to relate in any reciprocal, mutualistic way to another subjectivity, or subjectivities constituting another nation or tribe. This totalism is by definition exclusionary and aggressive to that which is not yet, or for whatever reason may never be, subsumed under it. Wagner bares his understanding of the necessary role of desire in the formation of a nation, or here, das Volk with an eery honesty:
The “folk” is the epitome of all those men who feel a common and collective want. To it belong, then, all those who recognize their individual want as a collective want, or find it based thereon;... For only that want which is a which urges to the uttermost is genuine want; but this want alone is the force of true need; but a common and collective need is the only true need; but only he who feels within him a true need has as right to its assuagement... and it is the folk alone that acts as according to a necessity's behests, and therefore irresistibly, victoriously, and right as none besides. (pp. 85-6)

The conflating of want and need in Wagner's characterization mirrors the urgency and structural necessity of narcissism to the fact that is constituted by frivolous, selfish volitions or desires which need to be desired structurally, but are not needs per se. In the tribal society which we posit, being one with the world is at the same time being master of it, and having a right to it. Entitlement, desire, and need all congealed into one smack of an infantile national positionality, and a telos which posits such an originary state as an end is a regressive one. Wagner's understanding of the function of desire, a collective univocality, is just such a nationalist position, one of justification, of right, of entitlement; his apparently circumspect understanding of the function of nationalist identification notwithstanding, which is necessary for

a theory thereof, he exhibits at the same time an infantile immersion within it. And it is precisely what follows, the exclusionary essentialization of a people, that completes the picture of a regressive existence, a cordoning off, and indeed an originary moment of the notion of race as a trope.
Who are they now who belong not to this people, and who are its sworn foes? All those who feel no want; whose lifespring therefore consists in a need which rises not to the potence of a want, and thus is artificial, untrue, and egoistic... diametrically opposed to the common need. Where there is no want, there is no true need; where no true need, no necessary action... [but] there blossoms every vice, every criminal assault on Nature. (p. 85)

This is a violent denial of all those Others which do not fit under a totalizing, narcissistic and sadistic rubric: it is to deny the validity of the desire of any who are not of das Volk. To deny that another has desire is in a very important sense denying the Other's nature as also a subject, also self-consciousness. Narcissism taken to its extreme is predicated upon the impossibility of an Other with agency, with needs, with volitions; a whole, undivided Self met without opposition, an impossible condition which is always being encroached upon by just that very Other, and which must therefore be defended violently. Paranoia and aggression ensue. Any apparent cause of any deficiency in the project of omnipotence is met with a sadistic backlash. But where violent enforcement to eradicate heteronomy is a negative condition of nationalistic identification, it has its direct compliment in a positive condition to be fulfilled: the creation of a collective want, the creation of a nationalistic object of identification. This is the role of art vis à vis nation, tribe, or other delineation. Wagner's insistence that “The folk creates art” is then a clever inversion which lends legitimacy to the creation of objects which direct, or more accurately, dictate the desire of people. His Ring Cycle, as an example, draws on Norse myths, and on the Niebelunglieder for its body; its content is mythical (and “the value of myth is

its eternal truth,” Wagner asserts), and purportedly drawn out of some originary racial font of spirit or inspiration. “Only by the folk, or in the footsteps of the folk, can poetry really be made,” said Wagner, and by insisting that the content of a nationalistic artwork is enduring, eternally of a national character, he sutures over the inversion which has taken place. He maintains that the Niebelungenlieder originally “had flourished mid the folk, eked out by voice and gesture, as a bodily enacted artwork.” (p. 83) Similar to the role of magic as Freud understood it in tribal societies, art makes materiality and the world at large bend to a narcissistic ideological vision by inserting itself into a racial-national historiography as always already present. Wagner's art, his own and his ideal art, functions to inscribe desire onto the minds of people; it functions Imaginarily and desirously, and dictatorially. The careful maintenance of a homologous, univocal direction of desire, then, requires defense against, and elimination of, all possibility of expressive heteronomy. That is to say, Wagner designates those not of das Volk (and indeed, synonymously, its enemies) as those whose desire is not common. If we read fascism as Benjamin does, namely, the aestheticization of the political, which is a common concern, the common desire, the common aesthetic, the national aesthetic must be unilaterally maintained in order to facilitate fascism, and any appropriation of the dominant Symbolic predicated upon an alternate, polyvocal multiplicity of desirous and aesthetic potentialities, a divergent or deviant phantasmatic object, must be read as a threat. We see this heteronomous threat in the form of what Deleuze and Guattari term “minor literatures”, a dynamic and provisional utilization of major structures such as languages by minor groups for minor purposes. We turn to Wagner's explication and justification of his own anti-semitism for yet another eery echo of what, otherwise, only a posteriori analysis and various structural

theories have been able to glean; namely, that care for and maintenance of structures of power, law and the state are prima facie linguistic concerns. This can be seen by extrapolating from Wagner's presuppositions regarding art and language, as he says:
Of quite decisive weight for our inquiry is the effect the Jews produce on us through his [sic] speech; and this is the essential point of the Jewish influence upon music. The Jew speaks the language of the nation in whose midst he dwells from generation to generation, but he always speaks it as an alien... A language, with its expression and its evolution, is not the work of scattered units, but of a historical community; only he who has unconsciously grown up within the bond of this community takes also any share in its creations... the homeless [Jewish] wight has been a cold, nay more, a hostile looker-on. [italics mine] (pp. 51-2)

The Jewish presence in European art is understood by Wagner as a heteronomous contaminant of precisely the linguistic variety. In every extrapolation of Lacanian-Freudian psychoanalysis, of Freud's ego psychology and of Lacan's structuralism, we see yet again the expressions and machinations of narcissism qua group dynamic as directly analogous in many ways to the subject's own expression. That is, the desire of the man to have phallus as the desire of the man to control his signifying dimension is desire to have no meaning escape him, and signifiers themselves answer to him, as it were. The nation-state, one of whose concerns is certainly a language, and by extension, the symbolic order which is adopted by its subjects, or the ideology which interpellates them, has an analogous concern as precisely the Big Other, namely, to regulate language, to adjudicate, to exist (to prevent the seemingly always impending “failure of symbolic fiction” as Žižek calls it in his article “The Big Other Doesn't Exist”). The Imaginary machinations which constitute the Big Other are then engaged in a constant process of suturing, engaged in a project of making the “symbolic fiction” “true.” So again we return to the complementary pair of positive and negative projects which constitute this larger project; the positing and constituting of the Imaginary, phantasmatic object of national identification, and the constant disavowal and eradication of uses of the Symbolic which amount to a bricolage of the

Ideological, and are a corruption of its presuppositions. The group libidinal investment in a national project analogous to the individual aspiration of having-phallus amounts to a state aspiration of being-phallus. Wagner's anti-semitism moves from his linguistic premise to a wholesale condemnation of Judaic art and cultural production in its supposed inauthenticity, and indeed, its minority, a rationalization of a total inability to relate to a cultural Other: “Who has not had occasion to convince himself of the travesty of a divine service in song,” he asks, “presented in a real folk synagogue? Who has not been seized with a feeling of the greatest revulsion, of horror mingled with the absurd... which no caricature can make more repugnant than as offered here in full, in naïve seriousness?” (p. 55) What we see exhibited then, in Wagner, is a keen understanding of the structural fact of nationalism, of anti-semitism, but in a way which does not sublate that structure and realize it as such. His partial inquiry is completely uncritical, and is indeed a reifying force inasmuch as it provides rationalization. Over the course of the brief vignette giving us a look into Wagner's hatred and insecurity which came to be called The Jews in Music, this initial rationalization, a partial understanding of structure written into that particular ideological structure itself, relatively unemotional, gives way once the author seems no longer able to contain himself. He ends with a polemic against the poet Heinrich Heine, and has advanced from denying Jewish verse the status of poetry to calling it “versified lies.” The Imaginary transvaluation between beauty and truth is seen in its converse, the relationship between ugliness and untruth. No one could be as beautiful as Narcissus, and no one could ever produce art as beautiful (as true, as good) as das Volk; “Judaism”, Wagner concludes, the Other, “is the evil conscience of modern civilization.” One might jokingly suppose that, in a sociopathic reimagining of Levinas' talmudic reading, Wagner would prepare for Yom Kippur by

going door to door killing his neighbors to be forever rid of their unbearable, unfathomable alterity.

Perhaps the greatest challenge which faces a nationalistic artistic ideal such as Wagner's is that of creating an ideal Volk out of the actual populace; the very same piece in which Wagner defines the Folk is indeed termed Cultural Decadence in the Nineteenth Century, and contains a subsection entitled The rabble and the Philistines set artistic standards. Wagner laments, “Our theatrical institutions have, in general, no end in view other than to cater for a nightly entertainment... lazily swallowed by the social ennui of the dwellers in our larger cities.” (p. 41) The role of the purveyors of art to the public in its inauthenticity, as Wagner sees it, can only be so prominent, and he laments also at the same time the passivity, the readiness with which the public consumes the same cultural production. This is, after all, what would earn them the designation of “the rabble.” The project, then, of turning the rabble into das Volk is the project of national art par excellence. The realization of this goal is arguably in fascism, and an end which Wagner never lived to see, but certainly foresaw with an uncanny prescience. What the equation lacked, then, and what Wagner was necessarily unaware of, were the technological and industrial preconditions for such a triumph of the will. The word choice here is decidedly unironic, in that fascism, as the “aestheticization of the political” per Benjamin (see Illuminations p. 241), has its crucial inchoate kernel in Wagner's theory of the aesthetic. In The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Benjamin marks a paradigm shift in the way in which aesthetic objects are consumed. The consumption of an aesthetic object by the masses is only possible through its mass production and reproduction. But its form, and the manner of its consumption, are necessarily altered to fit precisely the material

realities of its replication (pp. 223, 234-5). The rehashing of the aesthetic artifact to precisely such a reproducible object, and nothing more, we then understand as a prima facie fascistic reduction, a sort of subjection or putting to use. The reasoning behind this may be distilled and some further understanding of this dynamic gleaned. The relations of production and reproduction of an object will undoubtedly influence that object's final form. In a corporatist economic constellation, that is, primarily seen in imperial stage capitalism where corporations work in tandem with the state and constitute a national identity (as opposed to multinational late capitalism), the particular relations of production which constitute corporatism, or corporate-state collusion, will be inscribed upon mass-produced objects. This is the perfect condition containing within it not only the potential, but the inherent tendency, toward reproducing aesthetic objects which serve only to conduct public desire in a coherent manner, which bring into line with one another and elevate the individual, molecular aesthetic “egoisms” of discrete subjects in their consumption of art to a homogeneous, univocal relation of desiring production to a national object. The aesthetic object in the industrial era, then, contains within it a necessary political valence, precipitating the aestheticization of the political per se. Taking Wagner's idea of common desire into consideration, we would also do well to refer to Horkheimer and Adorno on fascism, media, and language. In their Dialectic of Enlightenment, the pair identify in fascism, particularly with the radio presence of the Führer, a distinct univocality, in the most literal sense of the term; that is, a flattening, deadening, an ossification of language, the end of discursivity in representation and communication (p. 135). If we understand the Symbolic as always worked on to some degree by the heteronomy of desiring subjects, the mutability that occurs in the space where the nonexistent Big Other is supposed to

be, the elimination of that heteronomy in a desiring unity would undoubtedly result in the death of that language. If we take Horkheimer and Adorno at their word, we see at the root of this dynamic the unchecked reproducibility of the aesthetic object constituting an overblown, univocal, uncompromising national Imaginary preceding the Symbolic, or language. We see the essential hypostatization of Wagner's theory in the totalitarian project; what Horkheimer and Adorno identify as a carrying-out of Enlightenment, we may term the construction of Phallus itself as the material facilitations and manifestations of nationalist feeling. When, materially, that which the rabble consumes is always-already dictated in form by the relations of production which have conceived of it, Wagner's dream is realized. This want, however, is not being conjured out of them from some hidden place, the hypothetical well of das Volk, we must add in a key qualification. But it is an act of exploitation, of manufacturing manque to spur corresponding want as per Deleuze and Guattari, that creates the wound, only to fill it, and maintains the illusion that the wound was always present. As Benjamin says, “Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves.” (p. 241) Or, to paraphrase, fascism shorts the masses' material investments, but provides returns on their masochistic libidinal investments. But, as Deleuze and Guattari submit in Anti-Oedipus, this deprivation of the masses' “right” goes deeper than material iniquity. One of the insights of the pair's materialist psychiatry is the ability to glean psychosexual insight from economic circumstances. As the pair observe,
Lack (manque) is created, planned, and organized in and through social production. It is counterproduced as a result of the pressure of antiproduction; the latter falls back on (se rabat sur) the forces of production and appropriates them. It is never primary; production is never organized on the basis of a pre-existing need or lack (manque). (p. 28)

It has become clearer, then, the dynamic which fascism exploits by way of the aesthetic. The multivalence of the french manque is noted in the translation of Anti-Oedipus, and we understand the entanglement of material need and desirous want which Deleuze and Guattari posit. This is the location, as it were, of fascism's respective ideological and aesthetic manifestations. We may even understand the manufacture of manque as the production of individuals with full, unhealthy libinal investments towards the group ego-ideal, and therefore by extension, ultimately the positing of one ideal mind, one ideal body to fill each subject's wounded Imaginary. We find ourselves at the conclusion once again, that the very applicability of analogies from the individual to the group level signal the already impending, if slow death of heteronomy, of creative, desirous, discursive agencies in favor of, for lack of a novel term, dogma. One could argue that Freud wrote on narcissism at a time when the wound which fascism would try to fill had already begun festering.

We are also compelled here to ask the question of a liberated aesthetic. It is difficult, given the place of the aesthetic in modernity per se (not even to mention postmodernity), to imagine its role in a Marxist society. However, we can go about our investigation ex negativo; if we see the productive power of desire and not just the consumption implied in the very notion, and understand a richer dynamic that does not presuppose lack but sees it as synthesized like Deleuze and Guattari, we can understand an alienation of desire. If we understand Ideology as materially manifest, and therefore materially reproducible, the Marxist object is contained in the realization by people of their propriety over the products of their work, and their agency in shaping ideology per se in their work; this realization is also precisely that shaping. As Ideology is reproduced, so is the specific Ideological proposition of beauty, which we maintain is its

lynchpin. If we take Kant's statement that “the beautiful is the image of the morally good” with the key qualification that “good” is an ideological proposition, a beautiful object, an object of desire, will reflect in it the economic realities of alienated production which Ideology deems good, or proper, in an alienated configuration of desire. Manque is precisely such alienated desire. A Marxist aesthetic ideal will, then, necessarily run analogously and parallel to its goals concerning the ideological. What Wagner has termed “egoism” is the insubordination of the individual subject in producing a beautiful object which, as a material production, has ideological reverberations, and threatens control. The artistic and linguistic heteronomy which threaten fascism are precisely the image of a liberated aesthetic. If Marxism will be realized when ideology is understood as by, and subsequently, for the Subjects which it interpellates, the aesthetic will be liberated when it is not predicated upon manque, upon sadomasochistic class stratification, but when the notion of beauty is determined discursively, in intersubjective heteronomy, when it is determined positively, productively, and not reactively, where its productive power is consigned to servility. Materialist psychiatry, a powerful tool in our inquiry (which appears to have only begun), ought to turn frequently to Freud. However, their relationship is complex. Freud's vocabulary and many of his definitions are indispensable. However, the main criticism of Freud and many of his categories which ossify existing power structures may be summarized, in the materialist camp, by deeming him an “ideologist of manque” Freud's treatment of the neuroses, and the group especially, simply lack in their criticism of the material realities of political economy as Ideology which subtend them, by which desire is produced as such. This does not, however, undermine our decision to use his theory of narcissism, or make it any less applicable or effective in explaining fascism as long as we do not settle for simple diagnosis. It should be noted, also,

that the moment of Umriss must come at the level of the group, that the critical moment is not at the level of the individual. As such, the problem with much of Freud is not in him, or even in his work in egopsychology per se, but precisely in that which he himself observed, the material circumstances which engender the broader group dynamics which we must criticize. Such is the case in this particular study, where we find that the division of labor and the skewed material relations in capitalism and state capitalism themselves engender the imbalance of libidinal investments which constitute group narcissism. The structural necessity of narcissism to the ego then, should not apply to the group in the way that it does in fascism. The cultural super-ego certainly exists, but its existence is not immutable. We must use in tandem Freud's keen observation, his particular method of ordering, but cease in observation in order to criticize, to, as Slavoj Žižek puts it in his 2008 work In Defense of Lost Causes, “produce a symbolic fiction (truth) that intervenes into the Real, that causes a change in it.” (p. 33) In this sense, materialism and its treatment of psychoanalysis offers nothing unheard of, following in some ways the tradition of tarrying with the Freudian negative (which some may argue describes the 20th century since Freud altogether). What if the treatment of individuals could be subtended by some broader aufhebung in the conditions which rendered them neurotic, constricted in their desire as they were? What if this aufhebung gave us a notion of desire other than what Deleuze and Guattari call “the abject fear of lacking something”? (p. 27) Our understanding of relations of production constitutes the perverted status quo, and the same goes for what we must term, digging deeper than Freud, “relations of desire.”

Works Cited Benjamin, Walter. "The Work of Art in the Age..." Illuminations: [essays and Reflections]. Comp. Hannah Arendt. Trans. Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken, 1988. Print. Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1983. Print. Freud, Sigmund, and James Strachey. "On Narcissism." On the History of the Psycho-analytic Movement: Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works. London: Hogarth, 1991. 67-102. Print. Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W. Adorno. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Trans. Noerr Gunzelin. Schmid. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2002. Print. Lacan, Jacques. "Aggressiveness in Psychoanalysis." Ecrits: the First Complete Edition in English. Trans. Bruce Fink. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2006. Print. Lacan, Jacques. "The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I Function." Ecrits: the First Complete Edition in English. Trans. Bruce Fink. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2006. Print. Wagner, Richard. Wagner on Music and Drama: a Compendium of Richard Wagner's Prose Works. New York, NY: Da Capo, 1988. Print. Žižek, Slavoj. In Defense of Lost Causes. London: Verso, 2008. Print.

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