Anxiety and Politics by Franz L Neumann republished in tripleC

tripleC has recently re-published Franz L. Neumann’s essay “Anxiety and Politics”, marking the 60th anniversary of the essay. The essay originally appeared in English in 1957 in The Democratic and the Authoritarian State. 

In the article, Neumann asks: How does it happen that the masses sell their souls to leaders and follow them blindly? On what does the power of attraction of leaders over masses rest? What are the historical situations in which this identification of leader and masses is successful, and what view of history do the men have who accept leaders? For answering these questions, the author suggests a combination of political economy, Freudian political psychology, and ideology critique. He sees anxiety in the context of alienation. Alienation is analysed as a multidimensional phenomenon consisting of economic, political, social and psychological alienation. Neumann introduces the notions of Caesaristic identification, institutionalised anxiety and persecutory anxiety. The essay shows that fascism remains an actual threat in capitalist societies.

In his article “The Relevance of Franz L. Neumann’s Critical Theory in 2017: “Anxiety and Politics” in the New Age of Authoritarian Capitalism”, WIAS Director Christian Fuchs contextualises Neumann’s essay and provides information on Neumann’s life and work.


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