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Male Fantasies: Volume 1: Women, Floods, Bodies, History

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First of this two-volume work providing an imaginative interpretation of the image of women in the collective unconscious of the fascist "warrior" through a study of the fantasies of the men centrally involved in the rise of Nazism. First of this two-volume work providing an imaginative interpretation of the image of women in the collective unconscious of the fascist "warrior" through a study of the fantasies of the men centrally involved in the rise of Nazism.


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First of this two-volume work providing an imaginative interpretation of the image of women in the collective unconscious of the fascist "warrior" through a study of the fantasies of the men centrally involved in the rise of Nazism. First of this two-volume work providing an imaginative interpretation of the image of women in the collective unconscious of the fascist "warrior" through a study of the fantasies of the men centrally involved in the rise of Nazism.

30 review for Male Fantasies: Volume 1: Women, Floods, Bodies, History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    This lengthy exposition of the lives of German men focuses on the Freikorps. Theweleit perceived their relationships with women and sexuality as being built on a foundation of misogyny and fear. He rejected the interpretation of male violence as an outgrowth of frustrated sexual desire or repression, arguing instead that the violence was itself an innate part of male desire, an end which they actively sought to achieve. Thus, male violence was not a substitute for, but rather an attack on, sex a This lengthy exposition of the lives of German men focuses on the Freikorps. Theweleit perceived their relationships with women and sexuality as being built on a foundation of misogyny and fear. He rejected the interpretation of male violence as an outgrowth of frustrated sexual desire or repression, arguing instead that the violence was itself an innate part of male desire, an end which they actively sought to achieve. Thus, male violence was not a substitute for, but rather an attack on, sex and femininity. Theweleit saw this as an important aspect of Nazi ideology, particularly in regards to its self-definition as an oppositional force to Bolshevism; both Bolshevism and femininity were seen as the embodiment of the untidy and disorderly aspects of human existence. For alternate interpretations, see Herzog's Sex after Fascism: Memory and Morality in Twentieth-Century Germany.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Willow L

    "The success of fascism demonstrates that masses who become fascist suffer more from their internal states of being than from hunger or unemployment. Fascism teaches us that under certain circumstances, human beings imprisoned within themselves, within body armor and social constraints, would rather break out than fill their stomachs; and that their politics may consist in organizing that escape, rather than an economic order that promises future generations full stomachs for life. The Utopia of "The success of fascism demonstrates that masses who become fascist suffer more from their internal states of being than from hunger or unemployment. Fascism teaches us that under certain circumstances, human beings imprisoned within themselves, within body armor and social constraints, would rather break out than fill their stomachs; and that their politics may consist in organizing that escape, rather than an economic order that promises future generations full stomachs for life. The Utopia of fascism is an edenic freedom from responsibility. That in itself, I think, is a source of "beauty in the most profound distortion." Meanwhile, communists and the left in general still stubbornly refuse to accept fascism's horrifying proof that the materialism they preach and practice only goes halfway. The desiring-production of the unconscious, as molecular driving force of history, has never entered their materialism—an omission that has had (and still has) tragic consequences."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Esteban del Mal

    [Full disclosure: I only read the first section of this book, as it considers the male fascist regard for women; I only perused the second section] A psychological study of protofascism that, in my humble estimation, is hit and miss. The author bases his analysis of the Freikorps (the militaristic form of German fascism under the short-lived and tumultuous Weimar Republic) on a reading of their "literature." I find this sloppy and wish he'd have relied more on historical instance in making his ar [Full disclosure: I only read the first section of this book, as it considers the male fascist regard for women; I only perused the second section] A psychological study of protofascism that, in my humble estimation, is hit and miss. The author bases his analysis of the Freikorps (the militaristic form of German fascism under the short-lived and tumultuous Weimar Republic) on a reading of their "literature." I find this sloppy and wish he'd have relied more on historical instance in making his argument instead of subjecting his readers to the lurid details of pre-Nazi pulp fiction. (Is the work of Danielle Steel reflective of the state of American feminism? C'mon.) However, he does a good job of demonstrating 1) the shortcomings of a Freudian analysis of fascism, and 2) that protofascists (and hence, the lineage of said protofascists) didn't just dislike women -- they hated them because they are (and, I'd wager, remain) terrified of them. Although there's a Walter Benjamin sighting, for my money Wilhelm Reich's The Mass Psychology of Fascism is a more insightful book into the psychology behind fascism (and Reich is one of Theweleit's targets), and Frontsoldaten by Stephen Fritz better demonstrates just how universal "fascist" prejudices were in Germany leading up to and during World War II, even among non-Nazis, and shows how Hitler and his band of brigands merely gave form and expression to nascent intolerance.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    Theweleit has a style of writing and argument that presents itself in a manner that may be described as “psychedelic.” Flurries of associative images culled from a litany of different popular sources along with tangential literary and historical discussions confront such that one must take pause and question what exactly is being claimed and its validity. Introspection often becomes the most likely response, differentiating the self from the fascist and proto-fascist subject material in the begi Theweleit has a style of writing and argument that presents itself in a manner that may be described as “psychedelic.” Flurries of associative images culled from a litany of different popular sources along with tangential literary and historical discussions confront such that one must take pause and question what exactly is being claimed and its validity. Introspection often becomes the most likely response, differentiating the self from the fascist and proto-fascist subject material in the beginning stretch of the book and comparing the self to the subjects elsewhere. This opens the reader to Theweleit’s quite particular style of literary analysis and reasoning while perhaps concealing some of its own limitations. This book is an immensely valuable project of itself in its examination of the men at hand, but it also takes as a given a theory of German fascism not quite en vogue either at the time of its writing or currently without giving it a thorough historicization. Sadly, the central role that the underground Freikorps network played in the seizure of power by the Nazis is incredibly undervalued in favor of salacious theories of oratory hypnosis or Trotskyite interpretations of a shopkeepers revolution. When the Freikorps serve as Theweleit’s principal object, he does not discuss this network’s connection to major finance capital and limits himself to the early stürmer’s own psychologies. This ultimately proves to be an artificial impediment. Though this lingering contradiction from the beginning of the book is partially resolved by the end, we are left until the final sections of the volume for Theweleit to entertain that the novels and memoirs he uses as source material may have had more utility as propaganda than psychological catharsis (as well as to make reference to Irigaray, who could’ve helped to give the vagueness with which he makes reference to women’s sexualities some definition). Though it is obvious the Deluezian framework he intends to use from the beginning of the book, he waits until he has presented the main body of his sources to reveal this in the form of a long digression that eventually leads into his grand theoretical gestures toward sexual relations throughout European history. While I will say that his is the most convincing version of D&G I’ve heard, the attendant terminology begins to feel zany after a time in a way that undermines his theorization of these social changes rather than supports them. Ultimately, this framework centering around “desiring machines” leads to claustrophobia, with an attribution of guilt feelings from parental contact at the basic fault stage as the culprit for these men’s psychopathy and a slightly cliched proscription of genuinely open human relationships running underneath. Theweleit’s scope becomes apparent when he makes claims such as that political and class distinctins for the Freikorps were “primarily” stand-ins for those of a sexual nature. It’s easy to see how he means primary here in terms of phenomena and experience, but his aversion from discussions of the role the “race” played on the psyche causes one gives reason to question this. Though he does give some incisive class analysis in passing, his attempts to supplant Marxist class theories with his own framework also belies these problems. Most troublesome in this vein is a brief approving citation of the anti-Semite Solzhenitsyn for a description of Soviet prison conditions. Much of the above may downplay the achievements of this book. What Theweleit does exceptionally well is describe with vivid detail the psychic lives of these homicidal men. That is immensely valuable as a measure moving forward with the current ebbs and flows of the patriarchal society in which we live. The production of men such as those described in this volume still plays a vital role in the maintenance of class power today. With the proliferation of mercenary paramilitary operations and GLADIO public terror, this role has become even more developed and refined.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    FAR and away the best book I’ve read this year and it’s not even close. You couldn’t ask for a better resource on patriarchy and fascism.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Szendi

    The ecstatic mingling of Freud, Guattari, Deleuze, and Reich, decorated with many unattributed and undated images, marks this as a work riding high on the academic euphoria of the 1970s, before the buzzkill 1980s. Not only did I enjoy reading Theweleit, I wish that I could write the same book. But I can't. For one thing, Theweleit already wrote it. For another, nobody gets to use Freud like that anymore. And, lastly, the trend of psychoanalyzing historical subjects got lost somewhere in the disco The ecstatic mingling of Freud, Guattari, Deleuze, and Reich, decorated with many unattributed and undated images, marks this as a work riding high on the academic euphoria of the 1970s, before the buzzkill 1980s. Not only did I enjoy reading Theweleit, I wish that I could write the same book. But I can't. For one thing, Theweleit already wrote it. For another, nobody gets to use Freud like that anymore. And, lastly, the trend of psychoanalyzing historical subjects got lost somewhere in the disco snow. I'm making light, of course. Like disco snow, academic fashions have been rewarded with returns. The more serious issue is how to proceed in a manner inspired by Theweleit but also in a post-Reichian (although still Deleuzian... Well, I prefer the term "Deleuz-ional") world. In particular, a problem with, and the underlying and inexhaustible inspiration for, Theweleit's topic is that it is soooo big and soooo embedded in layer upon uneven layer of post-Englightenment capitalist societies. The topic of gender and the various roles of women -- defined and desired as bodies bound to class -- guides Theweleit down every rabbit hole. By the 434th page of Volume One, I had to remind myself that this book opened with analyses of Freikorps literature. It spiraled up and away from that with dizzying rapidity, but I cannot say that the journey was unpleasant.

  7. 5 out of 5

    michal k-c

    sometimes i thought to myself ... ok i could just have read Foucault’s 6 page intro to Anti-Oedipus.. other times i thought to myself alright this kicks ass and is one of the most lucid studies into the desiring-production of fascism. probably won’t get around to volume 2 anytime soon but definitely added to my list

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chris Tempel

    So far it is about journal entries from Freikorp members analyzed for content about girlfriends, wives, women, fantasies, and realities. Very well written and impactful, this book extends a bridge for feminists and communists, who may know their commitment to these politics on a personal level, to link with anti-fascism.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julian Aron Ross

    There is so much to unpack about this book, both as a political intervention in debates that surrounded the German new left at the time of its initial publication and as a theoretical intervention in theories of fascism (not to mention European politics, psychoanalysis, and theories of modernity). I am obviously not going to be doing all of that here, only offering some mostly unorganized thoughts. Due to this epic scope it is difficult to assess Männerphantasien as a coherent whole, which at ti There is so much to unpack about this book, both as a political intervention in debates that surrounded the German new left at the time of its initial publication and as a theoretical intervention in theories of fascism (not to mention European politics, psychoanalysis, and theories of modernity). I am obviously not going to be doing all of that here, only offering some mostly unorganized thoughts. Due to this epic scope it is difficult to assess Männerphantasien as a coherent whole, which at times works too well to Theweleit's advantage. This latter point is also bolstered by Theweleit's highly irregular, almost psychedelic organizational and stylistic choices. At times I found myself on the verge of a measured critique of Theweleit's central arguments, but the rate at which Theweleit deftly moves between his own argument, other theorists of fascism's perspectives, his Freikorps interlocutor's perspective and various historical contexts often left me second guessing what it is I was objecting to. Now that I have read the second volume and had some time away from this book I think I finally understand what it is Theweleit is doing and why I found it objectionable: To start, some of Theweleit's most useful insights about what exactly fascism is or does (for instance, fascism as a kind of gendered technique for policing and managing one's bodily constitution) are, in fact, nothing new- Theweleit accredits only a fraction of the feminist thinkers he draws from. While reading Phantasien I found myself constantly asking how exactly race and antisemitism (you know, the thing Nazis never stopped talking about) factored into Theweleit's theory, only for Theweleit -shrewd writer that he is- to routinely raise this question himself either to defer a proper answer ad infinitum or -worse- dismiss the question of race outright as being about "something else" (how's that for irony) entirely: sex, one's body, fear of women, an unhealthy relationship with one's mother, etc . Theweleit's systematic refusal to engage with race haunts this book, although these analytical limits are front and center in Phantasien's second volume, which is demonstrative of the strange and offensive kind of mental gymnastics one has to perform in order to make a general theory of fascism that sees race as someone else's problem. As for the theory itself: while Theweleit spends a considerable portion of this book criticizing Wilhelm Reich's work on fascism (in particular, his argument that fascism is essentially the product of male repression and, therefore, that fascism's genocidal nationalism is the outcome of a society that tries to hold back and suppress male desires), this seems to elide the fact that for all of his polemicizing, Theweleit never fully works his way out of Reich's basic premise. I don't who this says more about: Theweleit, Reich, Deleuze (who Theweleit uses to try to work his way out of the hole Reich dug), or Adorno (who has his own quite nuanced psychosexual theory of fascism that Theweleit never completely engages with- why is that?). Männerphantasien is at its best in the first section, which deals directly with the journalistic writings of various Freikorps soldiers. Theweleit places various these -at times highly private and confessional- writings with Freudian analysis, art, and even personal anecdotes in order to to point to certain psychosocial patterns. In doing this, Theweleit often raises highly generative questions that deserve serious (re)consideration. Nevertheless, Theweleit's discussion of his primary sources is heavily contoured by the suppositions of his predecessors (such as Reich). For instance, the thoroughly documented instances of Freikorps members (not to mention the SA and SS in WWII) committing acts of rape in Europe and colonial Africa/Asia clearly complicate and at times directly contradict Theweleit's own reading. Approach Männerphantasien with caution. If you are interested in understanding fascism, Theweleit deserves to be read, but he also deserves to be responded to.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    This is the best example I have encountered (so far) of Deleuze and Guattari's schizoanalytic theory actually put into practice by someone other than D&G themselves. Theweleit reframes the question of fascism away from theories of ideology, traditional psychoanalysis, or economic reductionism and instead asks "how were fascist bodies formed in the years preceding the third reich? Why were proto-nazis terrified of being overwhelmed by a 'red flood'? Why did Freikorps mercenaries openly manifest e This is the best example I have encountered (so far) of Deleuze and Guattari's schizoanalytic theory actually put into practice by someone other than D&G themselves. Theweleit reframes the question of fascism away from theories of ideology, traditional psychoanalysis, or economic reductionism and instead asks "how were fascist bodies formed in the years preceding the third reich? Why were proto-nazis terrified of being overwhelmed by a 'red flood'? Why did Freikorps mercenaries openly manifest erotic satisfaction from horrific acts of murder?". To answer these, he begins with the autobiographical writings of Freikorps soldiers and ends up developing a complex history of patriarchy, colonialism, and the role of sexuality in class conflict. I do have reservations about Male Fantasies, all stemming from its reliance on Anti-Oedipus - it shares weaknesses with D&G's early work, namely a tendency toward anarchist utopianism, and un- (or under-) critical affirmation of every movement of deterritorialization. Reading it in 2021 with a cursory familiarty with debates around french theory and having read Mark Fisher, Zizek, etc., I was (over?)sensitive to the ways that Theweleits discourse prefigured some aspects of neoliberal anti-communism. Regardless, Male Fantasies is a brillant, well-researched study of fascism, and is definitely worth reading and engaging with.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sami Eerola

    Could not read till the end. This was the most boring book about fascism that i have read. The beginning was interesting, but at the 300 pages, this book became a very complicated feminist psychoanalyses of art that i could not stand. I am unable to take psychoanalyses seriously (maybe just my ignorance), because it seems just speculation that every problem can be reduces to phallic symbols. The arguments very hard to understand and seemed to go for ever, without getting to the main point. Horri Could not read till the end. This was the most boring book about fascism that i have read. The beginning was interesting, but at the 300 pages, this book became a very complicated feminist psychoanalyses of art that i could not stand. I am unable to take psychoanalyses seriously (maybe just my ignorance), because it seems just speculation that every problem can be reduces to phallic symbols. The arguments very hard to understand and seemed to go for ever, without getting to the main point. Horrible book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kåge Klang

    Fascinerande om krigets kultur, framför allt innan världskrigen och hur frikårerna såg på "den röda faran", gjorde den bildlig för att utan problem kunna döda. Hur soldaten lärde sig att se sig som den viktiga muttern eller kuggen i en krigsmaskins helhet. Fascinerande om krigets kultur, framför allt innan världskrigen och hur frikårerna såg på "den röda faran", gjorde den bildlig för att utan problem kunna döda. Hur soldaten lärde sig att se sig som den viktiga muttern eller kuggen i en krigsmaskins helhet.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rafał Derda

    A classic.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Anderson

    This kind of talent should not just be limited here. The way you arranged the stories is quite amazing. Why don't youpublish your book in NovelStar? A lot of readers will love your work. This kind of talent should not just be limited here. The way you arranged the stories is quite amazing. Why don't youpublish your book in NovelStar? A lot of readers will love your work.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Derek Shouba

    A very powerful and original take on fascism. Maybe Freud works on a collective level?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Greer

    The author's approach to his material demonstrates the misogynistic nature of fascism. The approach is to examine the storytelling capacities related in published and unpublished written documents of members of the Freikorps, a band of outlaws who murdered and bullied people without justification except for their perceived political views. Readers must ask themselves this question: What type of mentality is required to participate in fascist activity? Clearly hatred of women rates high marks in The author's approach to his material demonstrates the misogynistic nature of fascism. The approach is to examine the storytelling capacities related in published and unpublished written documents of members of the Freikorps, a band of outlaws who murdered and bullied people without justification except for their perceived political views. Readers must ask themselves this question: What type of mentality is required to participate in fascist activity? Clearly hatred of women rates high marks in such behavior. Let's see several examples: Lt. Ehrhardt, naval officer, who writes about his marriage because he was gifted a cottage by his in-laws. The cottage is the prize, the wife the nameless tool for acquiring it. Lt. Rossbach, SA member, who placed his loyalty in the SA and not in his wife who struggled to be reunited with him. Lt. Niemoeller, naval officer, a traditionalist,

  17. 4 out of 5

    David

    There is certainly some interesting information to be found here and there in Theweleit's book. But the main method applied in the book is wild psychoanalytical speculation, sprinkled with some Deleuze & Guattari. The conclusions reached is presented as facts even though the foundation and premises is as stable as a house of cards in an earth quake. Maybe I would have been impressed by the book 10 years ago, now I just find the style tiring and nonsensical. There is certainly some interesting information to be found here and there in Theweleit's book. But the main method applied in the book is wild psychoanalytical speculation, sprinkled with some Deleuze & Guattari. The conclusions reached is presented as facts even though the foundation and premises is as stable as a house of cards in an earth quake. Maybe I would have been impressed by the book 10 years ago, now I just find the style tiring and nonsensical.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Structure of facism as sexual origination. Discusses idealized females that drive patriotism, and the whore imagery that unifies invasion strategy. Includes chapters on Lola Montez and VD. Incredible. Showcases militarism fetish.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

    This book is a fascinating and completely engaging sociological study of Freikorps sexuality.

  20. 4 out of 5

    ryan bears

    this book has some scary pictures and it gave me nightmares.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Risa

    it reads like a masculine Vanity Fair for academics. It's disturbing, sexy, and sex-disturbing. it reads like a masculine Vanity Fair for academics. It's disturbing, sexy, and sex-disturbing.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mirza Sultan-Galiev

    Great.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michael Tolkin

    I love this book. Explains many things.

  24. 4 out of 5

    ainsley

    ...the fuck? Too much Freud. And do these things hold true for, say, Italian fascism?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Martha E.Chaves

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rolf Müller

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ami

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bri

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joe Richardson

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