An Introduction and Some Concepts
This essay is meant to make explicit and examine some psychodynamic aspects of the history of Marxism-Leninism and its leadership. This is something typically brought up by petty-bourgeois ideologists to psychologize promotion of communism, but an exploration that leads to an honest understanding should, hopefully, free communists from discomfort around psychological factors, and in a way that’s useful going forward for both current anti-imperialist efforts and future revolutionary ones. I believe that the misunderstandings in this area mainly come from (1) paranoia of liberals originating from fears generated initially by patriarchal family relations and obscured and projected by imperialist media, (2) mistaken liberal assumptions about the possibility and benefit of disentangling phantasy from “reality,” and (3) ego defenses from disavowed traumatic social relations liberals perpetuate in capitalism. The first and third of these are shared almost universally by psychoanalysts themselves and supposed theorists on the “left” that like to use psychoanalysis for their politics seem to fall for all three. My hope is to appropriate the usefulness of psychoanalysis for genuine Marxist-Leninist theory. Towards this end, and to make this approachable by as many people as possible, I’m going to mainly rely on two basic psychoanalytic concepts that I think are key to forming an understanding of some historical processes. These are the relational notions of the “self” and “self-object” as used by Heinz Kohut and the notion of splitting as applied in the school of psychoanalytic thought started by Melanie Klein, or the school of Object Relations. The dynamics I try describe with these concepts seem to apply to how leadership is experienced in general, although they play out differently depending on social context, so these should be looked at in some sense, although a very loosely, as constraints.
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